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Copyright 1991 
Edward R. Carwithen 


Many people have assisted in this project. Special 
appreciations are extended to Mr. Marvin Taylor and Mr. 
Patrick Lawlor of the Rare Book and Manuscript Library of 
Columbia University, and to Ms. Holly Haswell of the 
Columbiana Department of Columbia University. Mr. Bruce 
Wilson and Mr. Tom Bramle of the Music Library and the 
Music Educator National Conference Archives at the 
University of Maryland, in Baltimore, were most helpful, as 
was Ms. Liz Shaaf at the Peabody Conservatory of Music. 
Ms. Margaret Rose and Ms. Gail Persky of the Library of the 
New School For Social Research in New York City were very 
gracious in offering their time and expertise. 

Mrs. Sidney Cowell has been gracious with her 
comments. She has written to former students of Henry 
Cowell to encourage them to contribute their thoughts to 
this project, and she has provided valuable information 
about Mr. Cowell 's interest in hymns and fuguing tunes. 

I have been fortunate to be able to work with an 
outstanding committee: Dr. Margaret Early, Dr. Gene Todd, 
Dr. Camille Smith, and Mr. John Kitts. My committee 
chair, Dr. David Kushner, has been especially supportive 
over the years this project has been in the making. 


Mrs. Robina Eng Cornwall in the Music Library at the 
University of Florida has helped me locate materials that 
would otherwise have been omitted. Mr. Reid Poole has been 
my mentor and helpful friend since I first arrived at the 
University of Florida thirty-five years ago. A special 
appreciation is also tendered to Sue Carwithen for loving 
support and patience. 







Statement of the Problem 2 

Research Questions 3 

Need for Study 4 


The Writings of Henry Cowell 11 

The Writings About Henry Cowell 20 

The Music of Henry Cowell 25 



Music Appreciation 45 

Composition and Theory 98 

Cowe 11 and the MENC 124 

Synopsis of Teaching Career 128 


Hymn and Fuguing Tune No. 7 135 

Hymn and Fuguing Tune No. 9 146 

Hymn and Fuguing Tune No. 12 154 

Hymn and Fuguing Tune No. 13 159 

Hymn and Fuguing Tune No. 16 169 

Gravely and Vigorously 188 









Abstract of Dissertation Presented to the Graduate School 
of the University of Florida in Partial Fulfillment of the 
Requirements for the Degree of Doctor of Philosophy 


Edward R. Carwithen 
May, 1991 

Chairman: David Z. Kushner 

Major Department: Instruction and Curriculum 

"Music written in the twentieth century presents 
a problem to educators, particularly to the 
teachers of composition. Just how detailed an 
approach to the music is possible? Just which 
composers and what techniques should be studied? 
Is there a real technique in the handling of new 
musical materials? If so, what is its relation 
to old rules of harmony and counterpoint?" 

Henry Cowell posed these questions in 1954. The 
relevance of these questions to music education in the 
present day can be established by noting similar queries in 
current journals such as the Symposium of the College Music 

Henry Cowell's teaching career at such schools, as The 
New School for Social Research and Columbia in New York 
City, Peabody Institute in Baltimore, Eastman School of 
Music in Rochester and others, spanned over four decades. 

VI 1 

The examination of his course outlines, his teaching 
methods, his writings, and his music revealed a philosophy 
of life that pervaded all aspects of his creative life. 
Based on that philosophy he found answers to the questions 
he raised that could be used as a model for developers of 
curriculum in our own day. 

He wanted his students to explore all that was 
unusual. He had no single method of approach in either 
teaching or composition, other than a firm commitment to 
contemporary music, and particularly contemporary music by 
American composers. His students, whether they were in 
adult education or degree programs, were expected to 
assimilate information from many different stimuli 
including traditional sources, experimental techniques, and 
world cultures. At the same time they were encouraged 
to use the knowledge gained in whatever manner they felt 
most helpful. 

The present study revealed an extraordinary man with a 
highly individualistic approach to music education and 
especially to contemporary American music that is 
applicable to music education objectives for the twenty- 
first century. His approach may well serve as a guide to 
music educators seeking to narrow the gap between the 
concert-going public and the modern composer. 



Welcome and explore and inquire into 
everything, new or old, that comes your way, 

and then build your own music on whatever 
your inner life has been able to take in and 
offer you back again. 

Henry Cowell became aware early in his career that 
contemporary music in America needed particular attention 
and nurturing. Finding that publishers were reluctant to 
accept music of an experimental nature, he formed The New 
Music Society and the New Music Quarterly for the express 
purpose of performing and publishing new music. He 
championed such composers as Charles Ives, John Cage, and 
Lou Harrison when few would take their work seriously. His 
own works exceeded the bounds of what was then the realm of 
the traditional. 

He wrote New Musical Resources to explain the 
techniques he developed for his own music. For another 
book, American Composers on American Music : a Symposium , he 
requested from contemporary composers a series of articles, 

1 Henry Cowell, "From Tone Clusters to Contemporary 
Listeners," Music Journal , 14 (January 1956): 6. 

not on their own works, but on the works of their fellows, 
which resulted in a unique addition to the literature. 

He was one of the foremost collectors of indigenous 
folk music of locations as divergent as Russia, Africa, the 
Orient, and Iran, and he used these materials in his own 

works in such a way as to preserve their native 


authenticity. He taught courses in composition and in 

appreciation at the New School for Social Research, 
Columbia University, Stanford, Peabody Conservatory of 
Music, Mills College, and Eastman School of Music. He 
wrote articles, music reviews, and, above all, music. 

Despite this apparent success, throughout his life he 
was faced with the reluctance of contemporary conductors 
and audiences to accept his work and the work of his fellow 
musical innovators. In meeting this challenge he 
demonstrated his ability to articulate the importance of 
contemporary music. 

Statement of the Problem 

That "formal music" (i.e. music cultivated as an art, 
as opposed to "vernacular" music that requires no such 
training) has distanced itself from its public has been a 
matter of general concern throughout the course of the 

2 Bruce Saylor, "Cowell, Henry (Dixon)," New Grove 
Dictionary of American Music (edited by Wiley Hitchcock, 
1986), I, 523. 

twentieth century. A further frustration for American 
musicians is the overwhelming influence, in the musical 
sphere, of European traditions. Until World War I, German 
composers and performers were dominant in the life of 
musical America. Later, the students of the French 
teacher, Nadia Boulanger (1887-1979), and the students of 
the Swiss-born composer, Ernest Bloch (1880-1959), gained 
prominence. The European tradition espoused by these 
influences continues to be the major force in the United 
States. Experimental and contemporary music, and 
particularly American music, is poorly represented in the 
programs of our educational systems. This is true of music 
played by performing organizations and of music studied in 
academic courses. 

Research Questions 

Henry Cowell posed the following questions in 1954: 

"Music written in the twentieth century presents 
a problem to educators, particularly to teachers 
of composition. Just how detailed an approach to 
the music is possible? Just which composers and 
what techniques should be studied? Is there a 
real technique in the handling of new musical 
materials? If so, what is its relation to old 
rules of harmony and counterpoint?" 

The questions are still valid today. The intent of 

this investigation was to discover how Cowell addressed 

3 Henry Cowell, "Contemporary Musical Creation in 
Education," Etude , 72/9 (September 1954): 11, 49. 

these questions and what answers he found for the questions 
he posed. 

Restated below as research questions, Cowell's query 
guided the development of this biographical study. How 
did Cowell, as an music educator, approach the teaching of 
music of the twentieth century? Which composers and what 
techniques were covered in Cowell's own classes? What 
efforts did he make to close the distance between the 
artist and the audience of the twentieth century? 

An additional significant consideration was related to 
Cowell's own musical output. How compatible were his 
teaching methods with his compositional style? Did he 
manage in his own compositions to find some relationship 
between the handling of new musical materials and old rules 
of harmony and counterpoint? 

Need for Study 

The relevance of these questions to music education as 
we approach the twenty-first century became apparent in a 
preliminary review of current literature. In 1989 the 
College Music Society published its report number 7, Music 
in the Undergraduate Curriculum : A Reassessment . This 
report had as one of its goals to "stimulate discussion 
within the academic community concerning the impact on 
. . . the changing climate for music and other arts 

disciplines in an increasingly practical and scientific 

world. " 

The first point addressed by the College Music 

Society report was that of the cultural diversity of the 

United States: 

The concept of the American melting pot has been 
seriously challenged. In its place the theory 
has arisen that our social fabric resembles a 
mosaic of various ethnic communities, each of 
which contributes to the national culture while 
proudly maintaining its distinct cultural 
identity. Hence, the most appropriate education 
in music may be one that nurtures the capacities 
and provides skills to comprehend a multiracial, 
multiethnic orientation — an education that will 
promote respect for a wide range of cultural 

... We must recognize that much of the current 
population does not spiritually identify with art 
music of the Western European tradition. It is 
the better part of wisdom to view this shift as 
an opportunity to expand our educational base in 
order to,.reflect the cultural resources in our 

Under the section of the report labeled "the Role of 

Academia in the Cultural Community," the problem of art 

music moving further away from its public was addressed: 

Why has the general public moved art music out of 
its daily circle of life and onto the cultural 
reservations of the college and university 
campus? In view of this displacement, the 
traditional role of music faculties must be 
expanded to bring these two communities (young 
people and artists) closer together. 

4 Music in the Undergraduate Curriculum , (Boulder: 
College Music Society, 1990), p. 4. 

5 Ibid. , p. 7. 

6 Ibid. , p. 8. 

Susan Cohn Lackman of Rollins College presented this 

assessment of the current scene in her report on new music 

and accessibility: 

Up until the middle of this century, the 
public was used to having speedy access to new 
music by talented composers. Slowly the audience 
for concert music has vanished, and the only new 
compositions that the public is apt to hear are 
those written for commercials, films, or other 
popular media. In a short time the university- 
trained composer of concert music has become an 
unusual creature, and audiences have become 
unaccustomed to hearing new music, even in the 
concert hall. The lament of modern composers is 
that, when their music is played, it is performed 
only once. This problem may be addressed 
immediately by both performers and audiences. In 
addition, there are avenues by which the composer 
can come out of the "ivory tower" (where most 
composers hide) and communicate with the general 
public through radio and television through 
personal appearances and general interest 
lectures, and in teaching classes that are not 
targeted at the rarefied music student. 

The College Music Society report indicated a need for 

a more comprehensive perspective: 

The curriculum needs to expand to include 1) 
musics other than those of the Western tradition, 
both folk and art, 2) Western folk musics and the 
vernacular tradition, and 3) the experimental 
directionSgOf the expanding Western art music 

This need was echoed by Daniel Binder of Lewis 

University, in Romeoville, Illinois, in his appraisal of 

7 Susan Cohn Lackman, "A Personal Observation on the 
Composer, the Performer, and the Community," in CMS 
Proceedings , The National and Regional Meetings : ~T9~88 , 
edited by Michael J. Budds (Boulder: College Music Society, 
1990) , p. 72. 

8 Music in the Undergraduate Curriculum, p. 15. 

music history texts concerning their treatment of American 

The teaching of music history in the Western 
tradition at the undergraduate level in the 
United States has a profoundly Euro-centric bias. 
The results of a survey of commonly used music 
history textbooks and reference books used for 
instruction in colleges and universities across 
the country clearly show that American music is 
largely ignored. In the last sixteen years only 
two music history texts have included American 
music. Of those two, only one remains in print. 
The other relegates its materials on American 
music to the end of the book, where it can be 
safely omitted. 

Cowell was well aware of these problems and devoted a 
great deal of his life to the cause of American music. An 
investigation of his career as a music educator, might lead 
toward an increased understanding of the place of our 
national composers in course offerings and concert halls, 
and may serve as a source for developing a relevant 
curriculum for bringing the student of music a more 
balanced perspective of contemporary musical thought. 

The research questions related to Cowell's efforts in 
music education were formulated in an attempt to assess 
Henry Cowell's contribution to the pedagogy of music 
education in the twentieth century. Having been associated 
with the teaching faculties of the New School 
for Social Research, Peabody Conservatory of Music, 

9 Daniel Binder, "Teaching Music History From an 
American Perspective," in CMS Proceedings , The National and 
Regional Meetings, 1988 , edited by Michael J. Budds 
(Boulder: College Music Society, 1990), p. 73. 


Columbia College in New York City, Mills College, Stanford 
University, the University of California at Berkeley and 
the Eastman School of Music, Henry Cowell had definite 
ideas about what should be included in the college 
curriculum. This study was proposed in order to extract 
those ideas that may be applicable to other college and 
university situations. 

The research question related to Cowell's own musical 
output was proposed as an outgrowth of his challenge to 
other composers, and teachers of composers, of the 
twentieth century. How did his own compositions balance 
musical materials with the old rules of harmony and 

Although Cowell composed in many of the traditional 
forms utilized by composers for the past two hundred years, 
such as symphonies, string quartets, suites, and others, he 
developed one form that is unique, the hymn and fuguing 
tune. This form is based on the tradition of early 
American hymnody. In Cowell's hands it became a 
bisectional form, "something slow followed by something 
fast" as Cowell described it. Although the hymn and 
fuguing tunes number up to 18 in various combinations, 
number 17 was given its own name rather than a number in 

10 Bruce Saylor, "Cowell, Henry (Dixon)," New Grove 
Dictionary of American Music, I, 523. 


the series, and number 11 became a Thanksgiving Hymn in an 
expanded form. Cowell also used both hymns and fuguing 
tunes separately as movements of other works, and some 
hymns and fuguing tunes were not part of the numbered 
series. Some are unpublished and others are no longer in 
print. To examine all of the works in this form was beyond 
the scope of this investigation; therefore, a 
representative sampling was covered in order to determine 
the validity of Cowell 's commitment to the establishment of 
a relationship between the handling of new musical 
materials and the old rules of harmony and counterpoint. 
The focus of this study was to determine whether a 
corollary could be established between the efforts of 
Cowell on behalf of music education in America and the 
efforts of concerned music educators of the present time. 
It would appear that the materials were available for such 
a study and that the study would be a significant 
contribution to the literature. 


Three categories of sources were identified: the 
writings of Henry Cowell, writings about Henry Cowell, and 
the music of Henry Cowell. The first category, his 
writings, can be further divided into his books, his 
articles and reviews, and the course descriptions found in 
the college catalogues where he taught. The second 
category can be divided into articles about him and 
mentions of him or his work in texts and references works. 
The third category is his musical compositions. 

In addition, Bruce Saylor has compiled a list of all 
books and articles written by Cowell, as well as a list of 
his music in The Writings of Henry Cowell . William 
Lichtenwanger has become to Cowell as Koechel was to Mozart 
by compiling a complete list of all of Cowell's 
compositions in chronological order in The Music of Henry 
Cowell: A Descriptive Catalog . A third important source is 
Writings About Henry Cowell : An Annotated Bibliography , 
recently completed by Martha Manion. 



The Writings of Henry Cowell 

Cowell's first book, New Musical Resources (1930) , 
sets forth both philosophical and technical principles 
concerning contemporary music. In it he addressed many of 
the problems facing modern composers, including the 
difficulty of using standard notation for writing music 
which does not follow standard practice. This book was 
written between 1916 and 1919 as a result of his studies 
with Charles Seeger in composition, and with Samuel Seward 
in English composition. Seeger had insisted that the 
innovator must systematize his use of musical materials, 
and he must create a repertoire using his own innovations. 
The information in this book has served as a source of 
inspiration to others who, like Cowell, were seeking to 
expand the musical materials available for composition. 

In writing about his Fugue for Percussion , Lou 
Harrison stated, "I had got the idea of the identity of 
cross rhythms with the overtone series from Henry Cowell's 
book New Musical Resources years before and the idea of 

making a fugue for relations in rhythmic form intrigued 

— „3 

1 Bruce Saylor, "Cowell, Henry (Dixon)," New Grove 
Dictionary of American Music (edited by Wiley Hitchcock and 
Stanley Sadie, 1986), I, p. 520. 

2 Henry Cowell, New Musical Resources (New York: Knopf 
1930), p. 50. 

3 Stuart Smith, "Lou Harrison's Fugue for Percussion," 
Percussionist , 16/2 (Winter 1979) : 47. 


John Cage also acknowledged the debt he owed to 
Cowell: "Two of the inspiring books—inspiring because they 
gave me the permission to enter the field of music — were 
New Musical Resources by Henry Cowell and Toward A New 
Music by Carlos Chavez, the Mexican composer." 

Stuart Smith best summarized the basic tenet of New 

Musical Resources by stating that "The main focus of the 

book is Cowell's concept of creating a wholistic musical 

system based on the overtone series. He saw pitch and 

rhythm simply as different manifestations of one set of 

mathematical principles (If one slows a pitch down, it 

becomes a rhythm, and conversely, if one speeds up a 

rhythm, it becomes a pitch)." 

Just as in the matter of tone we start with a 
simple fundamental tone like the C of sixteen 
vibrations to the second, so we base our metrical 
system on a simple base. A measure of 2/4 metre, 
if completed in exactly one second (which would 
be the case if the metronome were set at 120), 
bears a direct relationship to the tone of C of 
sixteen vibrations, since if this tone were 
carried down three octaves, the result would be a 
vibration, or rhythm, of two impulses to the 
second . 

Two other books comparable to New Musical Resources , 
Rhythm (1935) and The Nature of Melody (1938) have not been 
published. Saylor stated that The Nature of Melody was 

4 Richard Kostelanetz, Conversing with Cage (New York: 
Limelight Editions, 1988), p. 39. 

5 Smith, "Lou Harrison's Fugue for Percussion," p. 47, 

6 Cowell, New Musical Resources, p. 67. 


written during the time that Cowell was imprisoned in San 
Quentin and that Rhythm dated from the same years. 7 

The same author, writing on Cowell for the New Grove 

Dictionary of American Music dated Rhythm from 71935 

(question mark is Saylor's). If it was written in 1935, 

it predated Cowell's internment. 

Saylor describes the two works in this way: 

The Nature of Melody is a book-length treatise 
apparently meant for practical use. The book 
draws basic principles and some original insights 
from melodies in the Well-Tempered Clavier and a 
handful of other classic tunes perhaps culled 
from memory. 

Rhythm is a much shorter and more tersely 
written treatise, possibly incomplete. Clearly a 
pedagogical tool, it contains no analysis of 
examples from the musical repertory but instead 
presents a series of progressive rhythmic 
patterns meant to be practiced by the student. 
Cowell takes a fresh look at traditional rhythmic 
notation and makes stimulating observations, 
enunciating in the process his own theories about 
it. The primary purpose of Rhythm , however, is 
to unlock difficulties of contemporary rhythmic 

American Composers on American Music: A Symposium was 

published in 1933 by Stanford University Press. Cowell 

edited this work and contributed several essays to it. In 

it American composers discuss not only their own music, 

but also that of other composers. This work is still 

7 Bruce Saylor, The Writings of Henry Cowell : A 
Descriptive Bibliography (New York: I.S.A.M., 1977), 
p. vii . 

8 Saylor, "Cowell," in New Grove Dictio nary of American 
Music , I, 520. 

9 Bruce Saylor, The Writings of Henry Cowell, p. vii. 


considered a primary source of information for contemporary 
ideas of the 1930s. 

The idea for this book may have come from an article 
by Aaron Copland published in Modern Music , "America's 
Young Men of Promise," in which he gives his assessment of 
the abilities of his contemporaries. 

Wiley Hitchcock supported this suggestion in Music in 

the United States; "It is interesting to compare Cowell's 

grouping of composers according to accomplishments and 

ideals with that of Copland written a few years earlier." 10 

Copland categorized his "young" contemporaries as four Prix 

de Rome men, three revolutionaries, five free-lances, three 

pupils of Ernest Bloch, and two pupils of Nadia 

Boulanger. Cowell made the list as one of the 

Revolutionaries : 

Henry Cowell has hardly suffered from lack of 
publicity. He has presented programs of his 
music from coast to coast and throughout the 
continent, even in districts as remote as Poland. 
He has written much for the piano and for small 
groups of instruments. Like Schoenberg, Cowell 
is a self taught musician, with the autodidact's 
keen mind and all-inclusive knowledge. 

But Cowell is essentially an inventor, not a 
composer. He has discovered "tone cluster," 
playing piano with the forearm, and the string 
piano, yet from a purely musical standpoint his 
melodies are banal, his dissonances do not 
"sound," his rhythms are uninteresting. Cowell 

10 Wiley Hitchcock, Music in the United States 
(Englewood Cliffs: Prentice Hall, 1988), p. 189. 

11 Aaron Copland, "America's Young Men of Promise," 
Modern Music , 3/3 (March-April 1926): 13. 


must steel himself for the fate of the pioneer, 
opposition and ridicule on the one hand, 
exploitation and ingratitude on the other. His 
most interesting experiments have been those 
utilizing the strings of the piano. The Banshee, 
when performed in a small room, is musical noise 
of a most fascinating kind. Perhaps if Cowell 
develops along these lines he may even make, a 
distinctive path for himself as a composer. 

Cowell was no less caustic in his assessment of Aaron 

Copland in 1933, some seven years later: 

A fifth group may be made of Americans who do 
not attempt to develop original ideas or 
materials but who take those original ideas or 
materials which they already find in America and 
adapt them to a European style. To this group 
belong: Aaron Copland, who uses jazz themes and 
rhythms in music which is otherwise modern French 
in conception. Such of his music as does not 
utilize jazz material is also French in style, 
and is of the type-that is amusing and sounds 
well immediately. 

The tone of Cowell' printed response and his 
categorizing of composers in the style of Copland's 
previous article can hardly be considered coincidental. 

Copland, however, got in the last word in his 
dismissal of Cowell in a follow-up article in 1936. His 
identification categories at this time were: ■ . . . those 
who have made a more or less sudden rise to prominence 
since 1926; those who have continued to compose along the 
same lines in a steady unwavering fashion; those who have 

12 Ibid. , p. 16. 

13 Henry Cowell, American Composers on American Music 
(Stanford: Stanford University Press, 1933) , p. 7. 


remained in comparative obscurity; and those who have 
abandoned composing altogether." 14 "In speaking of the 
second category — composers who have continued more or less 
along the same lines that they had adopted before 1927--I 

had in mind such varied personalities as Hanson, Sowerby, 

Cowell and Moore." 

Cowell remains the incorrigible "experimenter" of 
the 20's. In 1926 I wrote: "Cowell is 
essentially an inventor, not a composer." I must 
regretfully still subscribe to that opinion, 
despite the ingenuity of, such inventions as his 
Synchrony for Orchestra. 

Although following the thread of the competition 
between Copland and Cowell is not a major part of this 
investigation, establishing Henry Cowell as a major force 
in American music is very important. The similarities in 
their lives and influence require inspection and are 
difficult to ignore. Both Copland and Cowell taught at the 
New School for Social Research in the 1930s, both wrote 
extensively for magazines on the subject of modern and 
especially American music, both were active in their 
support for other contemporary composers, and both 
sponsored concerts of contemporary music (the Copland- 
Sessions Concerts and Cowell's New Music Society 
concerts) . 

14 Aaron Copland, "Our Younger Generation: Ten Years 
later" Modern Music , 13/3 (May-June 1936): 4. 

15 Ibid. , p. 6 . 

16 Ibid. , p. 7. 


In regard to the Copland-Sessions Concerts, Oja 

The music included in the first season of 
concerts was all of American origin and 
represented two of the existent camps: the 
French-influenced composers (especially those 
whose names are so often connected with 
Copland's) and the Cowell group. 

Elliott Carter supported this "rivalry between equals" 

argument in an article in Perspectives of New Music in 


. . . the generally high level of interest in 
contemporary music initially prevalent in this 
country in the 1920's gradually filtered into two 
rival camps. One, associated mainly with the 
League of Composers (Copland) and represented by 
Stravinsky, Bartok and the Boulanger school, 
received enthusiastic support from Serge 
Koussevitzky and the Boston Symphony, and found 
little trouble in securing commercial 
publication. The other centered around the Pan- 
American Association of Composers (Cowell) whose 
members included Ives, Ruggles, Varese, and their 
younger experimentalist confreres, did not 
attract such advantageous exposure; instead this 
group came to rely almost solely on New Music 
for the dissemination of its creative efforts. 

Despite this rivalry, Copland is represented in 

Cowell's American Composers on American Music in a chapter 

1 9 
he submitted on Carlos Chavez, the Mexican Composer. 

17 Carol J. Oja, "The Copland-Sessions Concerts and 
their Reception in the Contemporary Press," The Musical 
Quarterly , 65 (1979): 214. 

18 Elliot Carter, "Expressionism and American Music," 
Perspectives of New Music , 4/1 (Fall-Winter 1965): 3. 

19 Aaron Copland, "Carlos Chavez," in American 
Composers on American Music , edited by Henry Cowell, 
(Stanford: Stanford University Press, 1933), p. 102-106. 


Cowell's long association with Charles Ives resulted 
in the biography Charles Ives and His Music , written in 
collaboration with his wife Sidney Cowell and published in 
1955 by Oxford University Press. This is the definitive 
biography of Ives and written with an insider's knowledge 
of his life and work. Cowell was the first to publish much 
of Ives's work, and Ives anonymously supported New Music, 
the quarterly magazine which published new music and which 
was planned, organized, published, and distributed by 
Cowell almost single-handedly. 

The effort for which Cowell received most recognition 
was New Music Quarterly , a publication that printed avant- 
garde music at a time when getting such music printed was 
extremely difficult. Along with the music were 
explanations and biographical notes, often written by 
Cowell himself. Cowell began this venture as an outgrowth 
of the New Music Society, which he founded in order to get 
progressive music performed. New Music Quarterly began 
publication in 1927 and continued under Cowell's direct 
supervision until 1936. From 1937 until 1940 Gerald Strang 
took over the work of preparing the magazine. Cowell 
resumed the direction in 1940 and continued in this 
capacity until 1945 when the press of other duties required 
his attention. After Cowell resigned the directorship for 
the second time, Lou Harrison, John Cage, Frank 
Wigglesworth, and Vladimir Ussachevsky (all students of 


Cowell's) each worked for a time as chairman of the 
publication before the operation was turned over to the 
Theodore Presser Company. It is a measure of the self- 
effacing quality of Cowell's personality that not until 
1940 was one of his own works, Maestoso , printed in the 


magazine which he owned and published. 

Of the many articles written by Cowell for other 
publications, a great number were for Modern Music, which 
was an organ of the League of Composers. In an analytical 
index compiled by Wayne D. Shirley and edited by William 
and Carolyn Lichtenwanger , Cowell's contributions and 
mentions comprise one full page and parts of two others. 

The articles cover such diverse topics as the 
composers Ives (X/24-33) , Varese (V/2/9-18) , Roldan and 
Caturla (XVIII/98-99) ; festivals (XIX/42-44) ; how Russia 
uses music in war time (XIX/263-265) ; and the interest of 
West Coast composers in percussion music (XVIII/46-49) . 21 

Saylor listed two hundred articles by Henry Cowell in 
Tne Writings of Henry Cowell. In addition to Modern Music 
and New Music , these articles are in such diverse 
publications as The Music Journal , Pan Pipes , Etude , High 

20 Rita Mead, "Henry Cowell's New Music: 1925-1936." 
(Ph.D dissertation, City University of New York, 1978), 

p. 365. 

21 Wayne D. Shirley, Modern Music : An Analy tic Index 
(New York: AMS Press 1976) , pp. 52-54. 


Fidelity/ Stereo Review , Musical Quarterly , American Record 
Guide, New Freeman , The Ohio State University Bulletin , the 
New York Herald Tribune , and Recreation . 

The Writings About Henry Cowell 

As is to be expected with a person of Cowell' s stature 
there are many articles concerning him, starting in 1919 
(Lewis M. Terman, The Intelligence of School Children ) 22 
and continuing, after his death in 1965, on to the present 

time ("Henry Cowell, Leo Janacek, and who were the 

2 3 
others?") Martha Manion has listed 1359 articles 

concerning Cowell in her Writings about Henry Cowell 

(I.S.A.M. monograph with City University of New York, 

1977.) This invaluable source listed recordings as well as 

articles, and included quotes from many of the articles 


Wayne D. Shirley compiled an analytic list of articles 
on Cowell for Modern Music Magazine. He found 31 articles 
that included information on Cowell and 103 articles over 
the years that dealt with comments about, or reviews of, 
his music. 

22 Lichtenwanger, Music of Henry Cowell , p. xvi. 

23 E. Drlikova, "Henry Cowell, Leo Janacek, and who were 
the others," Soneck Society Bulletin 15/2 (1989): 58-61 

24 Ibid. p. 53-541 


Hugo Weisgall has written several insightful articles 
on Cowell's music. One such article includes information 
on the hymn and fuguing tune series that will be discussed 
later. 25 

There are three dissertations listed on the subject of 

Henry Cowell. Bruce Saylor wrote "Ideas of Freedom in the 

Musical Thought of Henry Cowell as Seen in Selected 

Compositions and Writings," in which he developed the 

following theme: 

"Cowell's basic attitude of freedom in all 
musical matters, his belief that music may be made 
from any materials available at any given time, 
his unbiased encouragement of a broad spectrum of 
styles, fostering less restricted compositional 
experiences for the young, and even relinquishing 
much of the control that composers have tradition- 
ally retained over the final form of their works," 
is the characteristic which can be, found to be the 
unifying basis of Cowell's works. 

To support this argument, Saylor examined Cowell's book, 

New Musical Resources and his Quartet Romantic , Quartet 

Pedantic , Ensemble for String Quintet with Thunder Sticks , 

the Mosaic Quartet , and the Elastic Forms of Ritournelle . 

Rita Mead's dissertation, "Henry Cowell's New Music: 

1925-1936," was subsequently published as a book, which is 

25 Hugo Weisgall, "The Music of Henry Cowell," Music 
Quarterly , 45/4 (October 1949), 484-507. 

26 Bruce Saylor, "Ideas of Freedom in the Musical 
Thought of Henry Cowell as Seen in Selected Compositions 
and Writings." (Ph.D. dissertation, City University of New 
York, 1978) , p. 4. 


now out of print. In it she examined, in chronological 
order, Cowell's efforts to have new music published, 
played, and recorded. This work contains an excellent 
biography, information about people important in Cowell's 
life, and detailed information about New Music Quarterly , 
the New Music Society , and the New Music Quarterly 
Recordings . 

The importance of Cowell's efforts in these areas can 
not be overestimated: 

The history of New Music is part of the history 
of American music's rise to prominence during the 
twentieth century. When New Music started, there 
was almost no contemporary American music 
performed or published in the United States. 
When it ended thirty-three years later, and the 
catalog of the New Music Edition was transferred 
to the Theodore Presser Company, American music 
had not only taken its place in the world, but 
the United States had become the center for 
contemporary music: the European exiles had 
become established here, American electronic 
music was making its impact, and the American 
avant-garde_was becoming known throughout 
the world. 

The third dissertation on Cowell, by Joscelyn Godwin 

at Cornell University, has been restricted. According to 

one of the librarians at this institution, the author used 

correspondence in some unauthorized manner. "Absolutely no 

one is allowed to see it." 

27 Mead, "Henry Cowell's New Music," p. xvi. 

28 Nancy Moore, Librarian, Cornell University, in a 
personal note, July 21, 1988, to the present writer. 


The Schwann recording catalogue lists many of Cowell' s 
works available today. The most often quoted biographical 
sketch is by Oliver Daniel in the December 1974 Stereo 
Review . The New Grove Dictionary of Music and Musicians 
and the New Grove Dictionary of American Music each have 
extensive articles on Cowell, both by Bruce Saylor. There 
is at this point no biography in book form. 

The New Book of Modern Composers , edited by David 
Ewen, ignored the experimentalist composers almost 
completely. Cowell, Ives, and Cage are given mention only 
in chapters about other composers. Only Barber, Copland, 
Harris, Gershwin, and Schumann are represented in chapters, 
and yet Ewen does include substantial information about 

Cowell in his The Complete Book of Twentieth Century 

29 on 

Music, and his World of Twentieth Century Music- 

Cowell is listed in the New College Encyclopedia of 

31 in 

Music, The New Oxford Dictionary of Music. He is 

29 David Ewen, "Henry Cowell," The Complete Book of 
Twentieth Century Music (New York: Prentice-Hall, 1952), 
pp. 70-73. 

30 David Ewen, "Henry Cowell," World of Twentieth 
Century Music (New York: Prentice-Hall, 1970) pp. 175-182. 

31 J. A. Westrup and F. L. Harrison, The New College 
Encyclopedia of Music (New York: Norton, 1976), pp. 146- 

32 Michael Kennedy, The Oxford Dictionary of Music (New 
York: Oxford University Press, 1985) , pp. IS^IST. 


also listed in Baker 's Biographical Dictionary of Music and 
Musicians . 33 

Music history and music appreciation texts that cover 
the American scene as a major focus also include Cowell as 
a pivotal figure if not always as a major composer. 
"Hardly any book on contemporary music fails to include 
Cowell and make mention of his tone cluster experiments — in 
fact, emphasize them above all other aspects of his music. 
This almost negates the fact that he is a prolific 
symphonist and brilliant orchestral experimenter as 
well." 34 

Music in the United States; A Historical Introduction , 
by Wiley Hitchcock is one of the more recent books on 
American music, and Henry Cowell receives generous 
treatment in this volume, both as composer and sponsor, 
through his publishing efforts on behalf of many other 
important American composers. 

Ulrich and Pisk listed Cowell along with eleven others 
in a section of composers after 1920. Cowell received 
greater emphasis in Ferris's Music; The Art of Listening, 

33 "Cowell, Henry Dixon," in Baker's Biographical 
Dictionary of Music and Musicians (7th edition, 1984) , p 
511-513. f * 

34 Homer Ulrich and Paul A. Pisk, A History of Music and 
Musical Style (New York: Harcourt Brace Javanovich, 1963T7 - 
p. 653. 

35 Wiley Hitchcock, Music in the United States ; A 
Historical Introduction (Englewood Cliffs: Prentice~Hall . 
1988), pp. 197-199. 


and his Banshee was included in the accompanying taped 

The Music of Henry Cowell 

Henry Cowell wrote 966 works which have been 
catalogued by William Lichtenwanger . These works are in 
virtually all forms, and encompass a wide variety of vocal 
and instrumental forces. 

Cowell wrote two operas. The first, The Building of 
Bamba , (Lichtenwanger #218) should be listed as a pageant 

with music according to Lichtenwanger, rather than as an 

opera. The surviving music from this work is a suite of 

pieces for piano, some exist in title only, and some are 

incomplete sketches. This work was performed in 1917, at 

Halcyon in California, which was the headquarters of a 

Theosophist cult of which Cowell was an acolyte in his 

early teens. 

One of Cowell's best-known pieces, The Tides of 

Manaunaun (Lichtenwanger #219/1) does come from this early 

work. This piano composition is listed in early references 

as the prelude to The Building of Bamba . It is in this 

piece that Cowell introduces the tone cluster, which is a 

technique of depressing adjacent keys on the piano keyboard 

36 Jean Ferris, Music : the Art of Listening (Dubuque: 
Wm. C. Brown, 1988), pp. 328-330. 

37 Lichtenwanger, The Music of Henry Cowell, p. 55. 


with the left forearm, while a melody is played with the 
right hand. 

Cowell was fond of describing his own works, and of 
explaining the origin of this technique. In The Tides of 
Manaunaun he wanted to show the movement of the water, and 
first tried a scale pattern in octaves in the lower 
register of the piano. That was not full enough, so he 
played triads which sounded closer to his requirements, but 
still not enough. Then he put his entire hand on the 
keyboard and played the scale passage with the flat of the 
hand. That was better still. Ultimately he used the 
entire forearm to achieve the sound for which he was 
searching. Once he had the sound he wanted he had to 
devise a way to write it and figure out what to call it, 

and tone cluster was the only thing that made sense at the 


Cowell's other opera, O'Higgins of Chile 
(Lichtenwanger #743), was written in 1949. It has yet to 
be put into production. 

There are 20 complete symphonies as well as ensemble 
works for various groupings: string quartets, string trios, 
string quintets, recorders, horn trios, and various 
instrumental duets. There are a surprising number of works 

38 Henry Cowell, personal interview with writer at 
Eastman School of Music, July 1963. 


for solo instruments: flute, cello, recorder, clarinet, 
violin, accordion, and shakuhachi (a Japanese end-blown 

long flute, dating from c,14th century, made in several 

types, one having 4 fingerholes, another 7) as well as 

for piano, organ, and harpsichord. 

There is a work for Rhythmicon, an instrument devised 
by Cowell but actually built by Lev Theremin (born 1896) 
that has the ability to realize the complex rhythms that 
Cowell wanted to be able to include in his works. Although 
the rhythmicon did not become standard (only two were built 
and one of those was tossed out as trash by a custodian at 
Columbia University), the works written for the rhythmicon 
can now be played on synthesizer assisted computers. 

Many of the works listed by Lichtenwanger are 

incomplete. Some are listed several times, as Cowell often 

used a work in one form, and then reworked it for another 

medium, or for a portion of another work. In this 

situation Lichtenwanger has listed the arrangement with a 

letter following the catalogue number: 

673 Hymn and Fuguing Tune No. 5_ {for 5 voices or 

voice parts unspecified} 

673a Hymn and Fuguing Tune No. 5_ (arranged for 

string orchestra 

673b Hymn and Fuguing Tune No. 5 {arranged for full 


39 Michael Kennedy, The Oxford Dictionary of Music, p. 

40 Lichtenwanger, The Music of Henry Cowell, p. 207. 


Lichtenwanger has catalogued everything for which 
there was a record. As future researchers investigate the 
literature, some pieces that exist only in mention or in 
fragmentary form may be added. 

Cowell developed a musical form which originated in 
the eighteenth century and became popular in America during 
the colonial period. The hymn and fuguing tune is a 
bisectional form which includes a homophonic chorale with a 
polyphonic fugue. Cowell wrote 18 works in this series 
from 1943 to 1964 for many combinations of instruments. 
Interestingly, while the hymn and fuguing Tune of William 
Walker was essentially a choral form, for Cowell it was 
used more often in instrumental fashion. 

Number 1 is for symphonic band and arranged also for 
piano. Number 2 is for string orchestra. Number 3 is for 
symphony orchestra and also has a piano version. Number 
4 is for flute, clarinet, and cello. Number 5 is for five- 
part voices but the voices are treated as instruments, 
singing only syllables. There are two later 
arrangements of this last work, one for string orchestra 
and one for full orchestra. Number 6 is for keyboard, and 
is also included as a part of Symphony #4 . Number 7 is for 
viola and piano. Number 8 is for string quartet. Number 
9 is for cello and piano. Number 10 is for oboe and 
strings. Number 11 was begun as a hymn for men's voices on 
a text from the Dead Sea Scrolls , but became A Thanksgiving 


Psalm . No work replaced number 11 in the series. Number 
12 is for three horns. Number 13 is for trombone and 
piano. Number 14 is for organ. Number 15, still in 
manuscript, is for any two instruments. Number 16 is for 
violin and piano, and also arranged for orchestra. Number 
17 is listed as Gravely and Vigorously rather than by 
number. Number 18 is for soprano and contrabass 
saxophones, and is still in manuscript form. Further 
consideration of Cowell's hymn and fuguing tunes will be 
examined in detail in a later chapter. 

From the above examples it can be seen that Cowell's 
reputation as innovator, publisher, and composer is 
established, but there is virtually no mention of his 
career as an educator. It is the intent of the present 
author to expand the consideration of Cowell's influence to 
include his contributions as an educator and to demonstrate 
the cohesiveness of all his endeavors toward the acceptance 
of contemporary American music by the public. 


Henry Cowell was born in Menlo Park, California, on 
March 11, 1897. His parents would have been considered 
liberal in any age, but in the late 1800s they must have 
been truly shocking. Clarissa Dixon was some fifteen years 

older than Harry Cowell, "had bobbed hair and was very 


radical." Harry had immigrated from Ireland and settled in 

San Francisco. Both Harry and Clara were part of the 
avant-garde literary circles of the city, both attempted to 
make their living by writing, and evidently both were less 
than successful at it. After their marriage in 1893 Harry 
built a two-room cottage in Menlo Park where Henry was born 
and which he continued to call home until 1936. 

Cowell was given a violin at the age of five and made 
such progress that his father began to think of him as a 
modern Mozart. Like the elder Mozart, the elder Cowell 
took his young son to play for musicians and friends in 
hopes of furthering his reputation and financial rewards. 

Clara's health began to decline, and in 1902 the family 
moved to San Francisco. In 1903 his parents divorced and 

1 Saylor, "Cowell," New Grov e Dictionary of American 
Music I, 520. 

2 Mead, "Henry Cowell's New Music," p. 18. 



Cowell's own health deteriorated to the extent that music 
lessons were stopped and even schooling was abandoned. 
Lichtenwanger quoted Terman, of Stanford University, as 
describing the problem as a muscular paralysis which 
developed into chorea (Refer to appendix A for an 
explanation of chorea). The first attack came as Cowell 
was on the way home from school at the age of six and 
continued to recur until about the age of fourteen. 3 

During this time there were two circumstances that had 
later significance for Cowell as a composer. The first was 
that the house in which Cowell and his mother lived was 
near the Oriental district, a fact that no doubt 
contributed to Cowell's life-long attraction for Asian 
music. Another was his acquaintance with a church musician 
who introduced him to the modal music of Gregorian chants 

(Cowell mentioned this musician, but failed to provide a 

name or background) . 

The trauma of the San Francisco earthquake of 1906 led 
Clara to return, with Henry, to the Midwest to work on a 
newspaper. Bruce Saylor, in the New Grove Dictionary of 
American Music , stated that "Cowell and his mother spent 
the years 1906-10 visiting relatives in Iowa, Kansas, and 

3 Lichtenwanger, The Music of Henry Cowell , p. xvi. 

4 Cowell, "From Tone Clusters to Contemporary 
Listeners," p. 6. 


Oklahoma, while she pursued a professional writing 
career between periods of illness." 5 

Daniel Oliver suggested that the period in question 
was even more traumatic than did Saylor. After a short 
time with relatives in Des Moines, Clara and Henry moved to 
New York, where Clara's writing career foundered. Sick and 
malnourished, they were shipped back to an aunt in Kansas 
by the Society for the Improvement of the Condition of the 
Poor. Clara continued to write, and when she finally 
received payment for one of her many stories, she and Henry 
were able to return to Menlo Park in California. 6 

Although Clara was able to write, she was not able to 
sell her writing, and Henry provided for the two of them by 
assuming such jobs as janitor for the Las Lomitas High 
School, cleaning chicken coops, and herding cows. 

It was while engaged in this last pursuit that Cowell 
met Professor Lewis M. Terman of Stanford University. 
Terman was at the time developing the Stanford-Binet I.Q. 
tests and was studying geniuses and gifted children. 
Cowell became number forty in the chapter "Forty-One 
Superior Children." 7 This intellectual ability contributed 
to the swift progress made when he finally was able to 

5 Saylor, New Grove Dict ionary of American Music, 
p. 520 

6 Daniel Oliver, "Henry Cowell," Stereo Review, 33 
(December 1974): 72. 

7 Lichtenwanger, The Music of Henry Cowell p. xvi. 


study with Charles Seeger (musicologist and head of the 

Music Department at the University of California at 

Berkeley) and Samuel Seward (also at Berkeley in the 

English Department). From the time that Cowell was forced 

to give up his budding career as a prodigy until he was 

able to buy a second-hand piano through his own efforts, he 

had had to develop his music, not on paper, but in his 

head. He wrote of his childhood: 

As a child I was compelled to make my mind into a 
musical instrument because between the ages of 
eight and fourteen years I had no other, yet 
desired strongly to hear music frequently. . . . 
so I formed the habit ... of deliberately 
rehearsing the compositions I heard and liked, in 
order that I might play them over mentally 
whenever I chose. At first the rehearsal was 
very imperfect. I could, only hear the melody and 
a mere snatch of the harmony, and had to make 
great effort to hear the right tone-quality. I 
would try, for instance, to hear a violin tone, 
but unless I worked hard to keep a grip on it, it 
would shade off into something indeterminate.. 

No sooner did I begin this self-training than 
I had at times curious experiences of having 
glorious sounds leap unexpectedly into my mind — 
original melodies and complete harmonies such as 
I could not conjure forth at will, ... I had at 
first not the slightest control over what was 
being played in my mind at these times; I could 
not bring the music about at will nor could I 
capture the material sufficiently to write it 

As soon as I could control which sounds I 
should hear, and turn on a flow of them at will, 
I was able, by virtue of studying notation, to 
write down the thought, after going over it until 
it was thoroughly memorized. I have never tried 
to put down an idea until I have rehearsed it 
mentally so many times that it is impossible to 


forget R the second part while writing down the 

Many years later one of his composition students, 

Stuart Feder, when speaking about studying composition with 

Cowell, described this ability to hear sounds in his head: 

You would bring him the score, whatever you had 
been writing at that particular time, and he used 
to sit next to you in one of those student's 
desks; never at the piano, and he would read the 
score; comment on it, criticize it. Sometimes he 
would say "I don't think you know what this is 
actually going to sound like," and one got the 
impression that he heard it quite distinctly in 
his head. He also, I think, gave the student too 
much credit, particularly with orchestral scores, 
that the student was hearing what he was hearing. 
I later learned from Sidney Cowell that Henry 
thought that anybody could look at a score and 
hear it as he could. So that he never really 
thought it necessary to sit next to a piano while 
he was going over things. 

It is probable that Cowell 's lucky association (thanks 

to his father's influence and his mother's liberal 

thinking) with the avant-garde literary groups encouraged 

his experiments in music. In any conservative setting his 

penchant for experimentation would likely have been 

sublimated to classical training. It is interesting to 

speculate that only in the absence of such training was 

Cowell free to compose whatever his mind could devise, thus 

providing a basis for his lifelong fascination with musical 

experimentation. His parent's Bohemian life style and 

8 Henry Cowell, "The Process of Musical Creation," 
American Journal of Psychology , 37/2 (April 1926): 233-36. 

9 Stuart Feder, in recorded tape to present writer, 
November 4, 1990. 


progressive thinking were necessary to Cowell's musical 

Along with this influence was the association with 
theosophists, a cult-like religious group which claimed 
special insight into divine nature. It was for this group 
that Cowell wrote one of his best known works, The Tides of 
Manaunaun . It was composed as a part of an "opera," The 
Building of Bamba . 

The Tides of Manaunaun utilizes the "tone cluster" 
which requires the performer to press the lower keys of the 
piano with the left forearm while the right hand plays the 
melodic line: 

Curiously enough, through most of his life Cowell 
had insisted that The Tides of Manaunaun was the 
first piece he performed using tone clusters. He 
believed this performance took place on March 10, 
1912, but in the early 1960s, a skeptical truth 
seeker searched the San Francisco newspapers and 
convinced Cowell that his 1912 date was 
erroneous. The Tides of Manaunaun (ca 1912) was 
probably not performed until Sept 1917. 

As in the case of his musical development, which 

proceeded without traditional boundaries, it may have been 

fortunate that his sickness kept him (as advanced as he was 

intellectually) from the stultifying life of formal 

schooling. Being denied a "traditional" learning mold 

forced him to develop a pattern of self education that 

10 Gilbert Chase, America's Music From the Pilgr ims to 
the Present , 3rd edition (Chicago: University of Illinois 
Press, 1987) , p. 457. 


eventually led to a career as university lecturer. It is 
astounding that a man with less than a third-grade 
education should teach at Stanford, the Eastman School of 
Music, Peabody Conservatory, Columbia University, and Mills 
College, to say nothing of his long career at the New 
School for Social Research. 

When he began his studies with Seeger in 1914, Cowell 
had already written over one hundred compositions. Seeger 
pressed Cowell to "systematize his musical resources" and 
to "create a repertoire using his innovations." 11 This, 
along with his work with Samuel Seward in English 
composition, led to his writing (1916-1919) of the book New 
Musical Resources which was not published until 1930. 12 

Cowell served in the army as a bandsman from 1918 
until 1919. Although this experience would not normally be 
considered music education, for a man of Cowell's interests 
and background it must have been a time of great expansion 
of musical understanding. Cowell was a great supporter of 
band music from this time on; he not only wrote music for 
band but encouraged others to do so. In an article in the 
Music Publisher 's Journal (3/1 January-February 1945, p. 
17), Cowell suggested that composing for band will provide 
new and larger audiences for composers of today. In an 

11 Cowell, New Musical Resources , p. 50. 

12 Saylor, "Cowell," New Grove Dictionary of American 
Music, p. 521. " 


article on Edwin Franko Goldman in the New York Herald 

Tribune (December 28, 1946, Section 5, p. 7.) Cowell 

praises Goldman for including serious works for band by 

contemporary composers on his concerts. 

After the war Cowell embarked on a concert career as 

pianist-composer, playing his own music. He toured the 

United States for three years, and in 1923 he made his 

first of several European concert tours. In Leipzig the 

reaction to his music was riotous. Conservatives booed and 

demonstrated against Cowell's music, and liberals responded 

loudly in support of it. The scene was reminiscent of that 

which occurred at the premiere of Stravinsky's Rite of 

Spring in Paris. The notoriety, as well as the 

recognition, followed Cowell through the other music 

capitals of Europe, including Vienna and Prague: 

He came to know well most of the major composers 
of Europe. Bartok wrote to him for permission to 
use his "invention" the cluster (the letter is 
lost) , Schoenberg asked him to play for his 
class, and in 1932 Webern conducted the Scherzo 
movement of his Sinfonietta for chamber orchestra 
in Vienna. 

At a concert in London Cowell was invited by a Russian 

Embassy official to perform in Russia. This vist made him 

the first American composer to visit Soviet Russia. 

After his return to the United States and his New York 

debut at Carnegie Hall, Cowell continued his concert career 

13 Saylor, "Cowell," New Grove Dictionar y of American 
Music, p. 521. 


while at the same time starting a venture that he hoped 
would make contemporary music available to the general 
public. The "New Music Society" was formed in San 
Francisco, gathering performers and composers together to 
perform and discuss music that was too new and radical to 
get a sympathetic hearing in more conservative settings. 
Shortly thereafter he began publishing contemporary works 
in a new magazine, the New Music Quarterly . Although many 
prominent musicians were listed on the masthead of the 
publication, the effort was almost exclusively Cowell's. 
He mailed out the advertisements, made up the subscription 
lists, chose the music, arranged for the printing and 
mailing, and kept the accounts. The address for the New 
Music Quarterly was his father's Menlo Park home. His 
stepmother, Olive, kept up the correspondence for the 
Society while Cowell was on the road with his concert 
career. Not content with publishing, Cowell became 
interested in having new music on recordings as well, and 
so added the New Music Quarterly Recordings to his list of 

Although the New Music Quarterly was able to publish 
orchestral works from time to time, most editions contained 
several smaller works. In order to provide a forum for 
larger works, Cowell put out a New Music Orchestra Series 
and several special editions. In all of these endeavors 
Cowell championed the music of other composers instead of 


his own. The first music of Cowell's to be printed in the 
New Music Quarterly was Maestoso in 1940' some fourteen 
years after the venture had begun. 14 

Cowell ran all of these enterprises on a "shoestring." 
The subscription lists were never very large, and 
cancellations often followed publication of highly 
experimental works. His principal financial backer was 
Charles Ives, who could be counted on to provide sufficient 
funds to get the magazine published and out to the 
subscribers. In return Cowell published a great number of 
Ives's works, many for the first time: Concord Sonata 
(second movement, 1929) , Lincoln , The Great Commoner 
(1931) , Eighteen [Nineteen] Songs (1935) . 

In 1931 Cowell was awarded a Guggenheim Foundation 
Fellowship to study non-Western music in Berlin with Eric 
Hornbostel, the eminent musicologist. While engaged in 
this study (and simultaneously continuing the various New 
Music Society projects at long distance) he attended the 
classes of Arnold Shoenberg. 

From the above, it is obvious that Cowell was not 
uneducated. Cowell could claim little formal education, 
either general or musical, but he studied music at all 
levels: as a child on the violin, as a composer with 
Seeger, as a practising musician with the Army band, as a 

14 Mead, Henry Cowell's New Music , p. 365. 


musicologist with Hornbostel, and in consultation with the 
finest composers, conductors and performers of the first 
half of the twentieth century. 

Cowell's first appointment in higher education was as 
a reader for harmony papers at the University of California 
at Berkeley at the age of nineteen. He became a lecturer 

on music at the New School for Social Research in New York 

in 1928. Shortly thereafter, he became Director of 

Musical Activities at that institution. Other appointments 

were to follow at Mills College, Peabody Institute, and 

Columbia University. His last appointment was at the 

Eastman School of Music in 1962 and 1963. 

His students included John Cage, Lou Harrison, and, 
briefly, George Gershwin, and Burt Bacharach. His 
influence extended even further through his lectures and 
the techniques he developed for piano composition. 

What must have been the darkest period of Cowell's 

life began in 1936 when he was arrested for statutory 

charges involving a 17-year-old boy. Bruce Saylor 

explained the situation in this manner: 

In both musical and personal matters Cowell 
was kind, trusting, and almost childlike. This 
perhaps explains why he initially deemed the 
presence of a defense attorney unnecessary when 
he was brought to court on a morals charge in 

15 Lichtenwanger, The Music of Henry Cowell , p. xxvii. 

16 Oliver, "Henry Cowell," p. 81. 

17 Frederick Kock, Reflections on Composing (Pittsburgh: 
Carnegie Mellon University Press, 1988) , p. 64. 


1936. Sentenced to imprisonment, he was sent to 
San Quentin penitentiary until pressure from many 
different sources, including fellow composers, 
led to his parole in 1940. 

Baker 's Biographical Dictionary of Musicians gives 
this account: 

Cowell's career was brutally interrupted in 1936, 
when he was arrested in California on largely 
contrived and falsified evidence, on charges of 
homosexuality (then a heinous offense in 
California) involving the impairment of the 
morals of a minor. Lulled by the deceptive 
promises of a wily district attorney of a brief 
confinement in a sanatorium, Cowell pleaded 
guilty to a limited offense, but he was 
vengefully given a maximum sentence of 
imprisonment, up to 15 years. Incarcerated at 
San Quentin, he was assigned to work in a jute 
mill, but indomitably continued to write music 
in prison. 

As this account is from Nicolas Slonimsky, a good friend 

and confidant of Cowell's, we may accept this version of 

events as being close to Cowell's own version of the facts. 

He was paroled to Percy Grainger (the Australian born 

composer and pianist, then living in New York) and served 

for a year as Grainger's musical secretary. "In 1942 the 

governor of California (Earl Warren) pardoned Cowell at the 

request of the prosecuting attorney, who had come to the 

18 Saylor, "Cowell," New Grove Dictionary of American 
Music , p. 521-522. 

19 "Cowell, Henry Dixon," in Baker 's Biographical 
Dictionary of Musicians (7th edition, edited by Nicolas 
Slonimsky, 1984), p. 512. 


conclusion that the composer was innocent." Considering 

the seriousness and nature of the charges, it is 
interesting that Cowell was accepted back into the academic 
community so readily. 

If 1936 began the darkest period of Cowell's life, 
1941 began the brighter part of his life. He married 
Sidney Hawkins Robertson in 1941, was accepted into 
academic life, his reputation as a composer became 
established, and his creativity and productivity continued 
to flourish. With Sidney he wrote a biography of Charles 
Ives that is still considered the definitive work on this 
composer today. During this time he also became interested 

William Walker's shape-note collection of modal 
folk hymns, the same "primitive" music he had 
heard on visits to Kansas and Oklahoma. Walker 
had used many of the works of Billings and his 
school along with newer works in similar style. 
Henry began to wonder what might have happened to 
this native idiom if it had been allowed to 
develop, naturally into a twentieth-century art 

Mrs. Cowell recalls the origin of the interest in 
hymns and fuguing tunes in this manner: 

Mr. Cowell heard the hymnody of the shaped note 
tradition visiting his mother's relatives in 
Kansas and Iowa as a boy. When I showed him my 

20 Bruce Saylor, "Cowell, Henry Dixon," in New Grove 
Dictionary of Music and Musici ans (edited by Stanley Sadie 
1980), 5, 9. 

21 Oliver, "Henry Cowell," p. 81. 


copy of the William Walker reprint; he recognized 
a familiar style at once, and was attracted by 
the modal tunes, many of them of Celtic 
character. I do not believe he paid any 
attention to Billings and his anthems. When he 
decided to see what he could do with this 
material, using it he said in the way European 
composers drew on the folk melody wealth of the 
chorales to create a sophisticated concert music, 
he adopted the two-part form, a slow movement 
followed by a fast one, because it was such a 
universally known form. He did not invent it. 
The series is dedicated to me (with some 
individual dedications to performers) only 
because I showed him the Walker book and went 
around humming the melodies. 

Cowell used hymns and fuguing tunes in some movements 
of his symphonies. He also wrote hymns, as well as fuguing 
tunes, in other works not listed in the hymn and fuguing 
tune series. 

Cowell was active in many areas of music. During the 
Second World War he served in the Office of War Information 
as Senior Music Editor. He was a founding member of the 
Pan American Composers Alliance, and the American-Soviet 
Music Society (along with Serge Koussevitsky and Aaron 
Copland) , member of the National Institute of Arts and 
Letters, president of the American Composers Alliance 
(1951-55) , and vice president of the Contemporary Music 
Society (1953). He represented the United States at the 
International Music Conferences at Teheran (1961) and at 
the East-West Music Encounter in Tokyo (1961). 23 

22 Sydney Hawkins Robertson Cowell, in a letter of May 
7, 1990 to the present writer. 

23 Lichtenwanger, The Music of Henry Cowell , p. xxix. 


While his health declined over a long period of time, 
his productivity continued until just before his death in 
1965. The writer was present at Eastman School of Music 
in 1963, when Cowell suffered a stroke which rendered him 
unable to speak. He attempted to continue meeting with his 
students, making his comments on paper until convinced by 
others to leave for the sake of his health. Henry Cowell 
passed away on December 10, 1965, in his home in Shady, New 
York, in the Catskill Mountains. 


Music Appreciation 

Although Henry Cowell is universally recognized as a 

composer, his activities in other fields such as education, 

publishing, lecturing, and collecting of ethnic music, are 

less often mentioned. Despite this lack of recognition, 

his efforts in the area of music education are impressive. 

Lichtenwanger gives this assessment in his opening remarks 

in The Music of Henry Cowell ; 

It is paradox rather than perfection, a genius 
broad rather than profound, that makes Cowell 
uniquely appealing among musicians. He was not a 
superlative pianist except in the application of 
his own special techniques. He had no formal 
schooling of consequence, either in music or in the 
three Rs; yet he was not only a successful auto- 
didact but a natural pedagogue. Along with 
composing and performing he spent a considerable 
part of his life in teaching: first his recital 
audiences, then conservatory classes, school groups 
of many different kinds and ages, special students 
from time to time (George Gershwin, Burt Bacharach, 
John Cage, Lou Harrison, Michael Kassler) . The 
schools of many kinds where Henry Cowell taught 
for a time as adjunct professor in some other role 
range from the New School for Social Research to 
Columbia University, from Eastman at Rochester to 
Peabody at Baltimore, from the Temple of the People 
at Halcyon to the University at Berkeley (both, in 
California and both before he was twenty-one) . 

Frederick Koch offers this assessment of Cowell 's 
educational background: 

1 Lichtenwanger, The Music of Henry Cowell , p. xiii. 



Although Cowell suffered much from poor health, 
he attended the local school sporadically and the 
resulting diploma from the third grade was his 
first and last scholastic document until his 
Honorary Doctorates from Wilmington College in 
1954 and Monmouth College in 1953. 

It may be true that Cowell had no formal education 

beyond the primary grades, however, it would not be correct 

to assume, as Lichtenwanger implies, that he had had no 

educational training and, therefore, no pedagogical models 

on which to base his own teaching. His wife, Sidney, 

recalls that: 

HC had two years of classes in sixteenth century 
and baroque counterpoint, and harmony, in formal 
classes at the University of California at 
Berkeley, in addition to conferences about actual 
compositions, weekly or (more) often, with 
Charlie Seeger; a little later he took courses in 
music theory or whatever at some sort of well 
known music school in Brooklyn. Then he spent an 
unsuccessful part of a year at Julliard, brought 
to an end when he complained to the Director that 
one of his teachers was an ignoramous. 

In 1932, a Guggenhiem fellowship allowed him to study 

ethno-musicology with Eric Hornbostel in Berlin. While 

there, he attended lectures by Arnold Schoenberg. 4 The 

eminent author and musicologist, Curt Sachs, was curator 

of the state collection of music instruments at Berlin 

2 Kock, Reflections on Composing , p. 62. 

3 Sidney Cowell, in letter to Frank Wigglesworth , August 
13, 1990, copy sent to present writer by Sidney Cowell. 

4 Richard Franko Goldman, "Henry Cowell (1897-1965) : A 
Memoir and an Appreciation," Perspectives of New Music 
4/2 (Spring-Summer 1966) : 25. 


University at the time, and Cowell's work would certainly 
have placed him in close contact with Sachs. Sachs later 
immigrated to the United States and taught at Columbia 
University at the same time as Cowell. 

As Cowell had ample opportunity to observe the 
pedagogical process as demonstrated by many of the most 
famous personalities of this century, his innovative 
approach to courses in music should not be ascribed to a 
lack of contact with formal education; rather it may be 
considered a product of his genius in approaching 
conventional subjects with fresh ideas. According to music 
critic, Peter Yates, "He (Henry Cowell) has been one in a 
succession of great teachers, among them Horatio Parker, 
Ernest Bloch, Nadia Boulanger, Arnold Schoenberg, Walter 
Piston, Paul Hindemith, and Roger Sessions, who have 
decisively influenced the growth of American musical 
thought." 5 

There are two distinct unifying characteristics of 
Cowell's teaching in the area of music appreciation: an 
eclectic approach to materials, and an emphasis on 
contemporary (and especially American contemporary) music. 
Through all of his teaching career Cowell challenged his 

5 William R. Martin and Julius Drossin, Music of the 
Twentieth Century (Englewood Cliffs: Prentice-HalT7 1980) , 

p • j U j> « 


classes to accept the most divergent of musical 
experiences, and to develop an openness for "new" music. 

These unifying characteristics can be observed in the 
courses taught by Cowell. Olive Cowell, Henry Cowell's 
step-mother, compiled a list of his activities up through 
1934. A few of the titles of the lectures and courses 
mentioned include: "Creative Music for Children," "The 
Appreciation of Modern Music," "Contemporary American 
Music," "Comparative Musicology," "Music as a Social 
Force," and "Comparison of Musical Systems of the World." 6 
Significantly absent are courses on the great masters, 
Classical or Romantic music, or any historical treatment of 
music in the Western European tradition. It should also be 
noted that virtually all of the lectures and courses 
mentioned by Olive Cowell are for the general studies 
student, rather than for students of music as a vocation. 

These unifying motifs are further demonstrated in the 
courses presented by Cowell at the New School for Social 
Research. As Cowell was himself in charge of the musical 
activities there during the 1930s, it may be assumed that 
he found these courses important to the curriculum. As a 
life-long advocate of new music, he recognized that it was 
also important to build an audience for music unfamiliar to 

6 Olive Cowell, Henry Cowell : A Record of His 
Activities , (Unpublished Mimeograph in Rare - Book Room of 
Peabody Conservatory of Music) Compiled June 1934. p. 11. 


the concert-going public. The first course taught by 

Cowell in 1930 embodied these elements and was, at the same 

time, a reflection of his concerns for modern music: 

Course 19. A World Survey of Contemporary Music- 
Mr. Cowell. Four lectures illustrated at the 
piano, beginning February 7. Fridays, 8:20-9:50 
P.M. $5.00. 

1. The Paradoxical Musical Situation in Russia. 
Unprecedented musical organizations existing in 
Russia, and their unique work. Musical 
conservatism in Russia as a result of following 
communist ideals. 

2. Europe Proceeds Both Forward and Backward: The 
extent to which Neoclassicism has permeated the 
work of Europe, and affected even radical 
composers. The tendency in Europe, just arising 
and little known, toward a new vocal style. 

3. Newly Discovered Oriental Principles; new 
discoveries concerning Oriental musical practice 
and science recently made by musicologists in 
Russia, and here. Amazing contrasts of Oriental 
standpoints with our musical views. 

4. American Composers Begin Breaking Apron- 
Strings: Reliance of American music on European 
standards up to the present time. Different 
steps now being taken toward the inception of 
indigenous musical materials. 

Cowell was the first American composer to visit Russia 

after the revolution in the 1920s, and item number 1 above 

is certainly a result of his travels there. He continued 

to be interested in the ideas of communism, but was 

generally unimpressed with the music that emanated from 


7 New School for Social Research : Announc ement of 
courses of Study , Spring 1930, p. 23. ~*~ — 


The second lecture was most likely a study of 
Schoenberg and the twelve-tone system of music he had 
developed in Vienna. Schoenberg's Pierrot Lunaire , in 
"expressionist style," had been first performed in 1912, 
and the twelve-tone Five Piano Pieces (Op. 30) premiered in 


1925. Although Cowell was not to become closely 
acquainted with Schoenberg until 1933, given his intense 
interest in "new" music, he could hardly have failed to be 
aware of, and to learn about, the most controversial form 
of music being produced in Europe while he was there. 
Cowell would publish Schoenberg's Klavierstueck (Op. 33b) 
in the New Music Quarterly in 1932. 9 

The information in Item number 3 was expanded somewhat 
in an article written by Cowell for Modern Music in 1923 in 
which a "Mr. Ch" engages Mr. Cowell in a Socratic dialogue 
about the mysteries of Western Music. Mr Ch is confused 
about the strange Occidental custom of hearing groups of 
notes (chords) as musical units. He finds the Oriental 
method of simultaneous melodies much clearer to the 
ear. 10 

8 Michael Kennedy, "Schoenberg, Arnold," Oxford 
Dictionary of Music , p. 637. 

9 Mead, "Henry Cowell's New Music, p. 586. 

10 Henry Cowell, "Music of the Hemispheres," Modern 
Music 6/3 (March-April 1929): 13. 


Lecture number 4 revolved around a theme to which 

Cowell returned many times in his career. Several of his 

lectures dealt with his concern about the heavy influence 

of the European tradition on American composers: 

Of course these radical 20th-century 
techniques and materials (Schoenberg, Boulanger, 
Hindemith) have traveled easily to this country, 
with or without their most famous practitioners. 
But because no American lives wholly within a 
European cultural tradition, we cannot share the 
esthetic convictions of the great European masters. 
... we cannot write German or Viennese or Franco- 
Russian music. Americans now look instead to their 
own cultural history, with its multiple, roots and 
their natural growth on this continent. 

Cowell continued at the New School the following term 

with another class in contemporary music. His search for a 

meaningful style of presentation can be discerned in the 

course description: 

Course no. 48. What the Twentieth Century has 
Added to Music-Mr. Cowell. Twelve lectures, 
beginning January 7. Wednesdays, 8:20-9:50 P.M. 

A new method of formulating the subject matter of 
these lectures is proposed; namely: instead of 
treating from the standpoint of certain composers 
and their work, or making divisions along lines 
of race and nationality, modern music will be 
divided into its component materials and 
different scientific aspects. Six lectures will 
be devoted to the science, and six to the 
materials of new music. The composers and 
national schools of composition will be treated 

11 Henry Cowell, "Freedom for Young Composers," Music 
Journal , 20/3 (March 1962) : 30. 


in reference to the materials which they have 
furthered. The course will be illustrated at the 

With this description it is clear that Cowell had no 

pre-set conditions on his lecture style at the New School. 

He was as free to explore new methods in his teaching as he 

was in his composing. This freedom, in Cowell's case, led 

him to explore new possibilities in teaching style, and to 

incorporate into his courses those concepts which he felt 

were so important to a consumer of music in contemporary 

society. In the catalogue for the 1931 Fall term, Cowell 

not only includes the subject matter and dates for each 

lecture, he includes a statement of philosophy about the 

teaching and learning of music in the contemporary style: 

Course 55. Appreciation of Modern Music-Henry 
Cowell. 12 lectures. Wednesdays, 8:20-9:50 P.M., 
beginning January 6 $15.00. 

The listener to symphonic music has formerly 
prided himself on the ability to aid his concept 
of the music he was hearing by making for himself 
at least some slight analysis. He could pick out 
the theme, perhaps the secondary themes, and 
follow some of their development; he could follow 
the outline of the form, etc. Now, however there 
is much contemporary music performed which does 
not come under the same category in terms of 
forms, development, etc., as classical music. 
Mr. Cowell will consider each evening some 
well known contemporary work by a famous composer 
and attempt in simple terms to analyze it so that 
its elements will be made clear to the listener 
and student, and so that they may be able in the 
future to analyze other modern works of the same 
general type for themselves. 

12 The New School for Social Research Announce ment of 
Courses , Winter 1931, p. 27-28. 


Following is a tentative list of the works which 
will be analyzed: 

Jan 6. Arnold Schoenberg's Opus 25 (piano pieces) 
13. Igor Stravinsky's Sacre du Printemps 
20. Be'la Bartok's Fourth String Quartet 
27. Carl Ruggles 1 Portals and compositions by 
other American polyphonists 
Feb 3. Maurice Ravel's Bolero and other modern 
French compositions 
10. Charles Ives' New England Suite and 
compositions by other American 
17. John J. Becker, Head of Music Department 
of St. Thomas College, guest lecturer, 
Paul Hindemith's Opus 36 and Opus 37 
(piano pieces) and other German 
24. George Gershwin's Rhapsody in Blue and 
other jazz-built music. 
Mar 2. Arthur Honegger's Pacific 231 and other 
program music 
9. Igor Stravinsky's Oedipus Rex and other 
"neo-classical" compositions 
16. Alban Berg's Wozzeck and other new operas 
23. Henry Cowell's Concerto and other works, 
and tonal experiments by other composers 

The analysis will attempt to cover not only 
purely musical matters, but will also lead into 
discussions of aesthetics, philosophy, 
psychology, physiology, mathematics, acoustics, 

This course combined with course no. 54 fulfills 
the teachers' credit requirements. 

It should be noted that this is the third year that 

Cowell had taught at the New School and none of the courses 

were repetitions of courses that had been taught before, 

even though each of those discussed was concerned with 

contemporary music. The approach had differed in every 

case. In the 1930 Fall term, Cowell used general 


The New School for Social Research , Inc, Fall 1931, 

/ • 


nationalistic considerations as a criterion for study. In 
the 1931 Winter term he approached the music in component 
materials and scientific aspects. In the third instance he 
looked to analysis, and then applied that analysis to 
individual composer's works. This pattern of offering new 
material in every term continued to be found in Cowell's 
work into the 1950s. 

The list of composers covered in this class were a mix 
of seven Europeans and four Americans. The most startling 
fact about this list is that all of those listed were not 
only contemporary, but also living, and most were still in 
the prime of their compositional activities. Schoenberg's 
°P US 25 was only five years old, Berg Wozzeck had been 
finished nine years earlier, but his Lulu would not be 
completed for another four years. Gershwin was at the time 
studying with Cowell, and his Porgy and Bess was four years 
in the future. Igor Stravinsky was still living in France 
and would not settle in the United States until 1939. 
While the Sacre du Printemps had been written early in the 
century, Stravinsky was very much a working composer, and 
would continue to be in the fore-front of modern music for 
decades to come. Ravel and Ives were living in 1931. 
Ravel was still composing and widely recognized, but Ives 1 
music was almost completely unknown except to those who 
actively sought out music of an experimental nature. 

The composers whom Cowell chose to include in his 


course on Modern Music are the same ones that music 
educators in the late 1980s include as "modern," except 
that today they are without exception no longer living, and 
their major works are seventy-five years in the past. In 
order to be as contemporary in time as Cowell was in 1931, 
today's professors would need to teach about composers who 
are second generation students of those listed by Cowell; 
those composers born since 1950. At the time Cowell was 
discussing his list of contemporary musicians, they had yet 
to be included in any of the texts, and many had yet to 
have their major works performed. 

It is also interesting to notice that there are some 
well-known American composers excluded from this list: 
Copland (who had taught at the New School in the late 20s, 
and continued to teach there along with Cowell for several 
years), Harris, and Hanson, to name just a few. These 
composers were at the time widely recognized, and their 
works were performed regularly. The reason for their 
exclusion may be found in their very popularity and 
frequency of audition. Cowell's emphases in his classes 
seem to echo his sentiments in his New Music Quarterly 
publications in that those composers whose works were being 
heard did not need further assistance from him. His 
concern was for those works and those composers who were 
not at the time "commercial." A further reason for not 


including such composers may have been Cowell's disdain for 
composers who worked primarily in the transplanted European 

In the same term that the above course was offered, 
Cowell began teaching the course that would become (under a 
different title) his most popular and most often repeated 
course: "Comparison of the Musical Systems of the World." 
The course title would undergo several alterations: 
"Musical Systems of the World" and "Music of the World's 
Peoples." Whatever the title, the course was a study of the 
music of widely divergent cultures. Charles Seeger, who 
was also in New York at this time and also teaching at the 
New School is listed as co-instructor for the course: 

Course No. 56. Comparison of the Musical Systems 

of the World. 12 Sessions. Mondays, 8:20-9:50 

P.M., beginning January 4. $15.00 

The course will present native music from many 

countries which have distinctive musical systems. 

In each session the music of a country will be 

presented by native players on their own 

instruments. There will be a preparatory talk on 

the music of the country by Henry Cowell or 

Charles Louis Seeger. 

Jan 4. Music of Mexico, illustrated by "Los 

Chorros," a quartet of Mexican musicians 

on native guitars 
11. Music of the Balkans, illustrated by Sam 

Yokieh, a Servian, on a Gusla 
18. Music of Java, Bali and other Oriental 

Countries, illustrated by rare phonograph 

25. Music of Ireland and Scotland by bagpipe 

Feb 1. Music of Arabia by George Vartanien on the 

8. Music of Russia, introduced and 

illustrated by Joseph Shillinger 


15. Music of East India by Sarat Lahiri and 

Lota, who sing, and play the esraj, the 

sitar, the banya and the tabla 
22. Music of American Indians, introduced by 

Helen Roberts 
29. Music of China by a group of musicians 

from the China Institute 
Mar 7. Traditional Hebrew music, introduced by 

Lazare Saminsky and illustrated by Hebrew 

14. Music of Japan, illustrated by Soichi 

Ichikawa and other Japanese musicians on 

the Japanese flute, the koto and the 

21. Music of Cuba, illustrated by a group of 

six Cuban musicians on the bombo, the 

guiro, the clave, the maracas, etc. 

In this course, Cowell resisted the temptation to tie 
all of these cultures together with Western traditions. 
They are valued for those qualities which are unique to 
their own cultures. 

Cowell was quite adept in persuading others to 

participate in his projects. His ability to obtain the 

services of all of these people to demonstrate their native 

music, not just once, but again and again in succeeding 

years, is remarkable. Gerald Strang, who supervised the 

New Music Workshop (a group organized by Cowell to play and 

discuss new music) in California, was quoted on this point 

by Rita Mead in her work, Henry Cowell 's New Music: 

In this sense, Henry was much more skillful, I 
think, than any of us realized at getting other 
people involved. He was never a dictator like 
Varese. And yet he managed to get things done. 
He had an incredible correspondence. You could 
count on a response from Henry any time you wrote 

14 Ibid. , p. 37-8. 


him. Mostly it was a scrawl-almost illegible-on 
the back of a penny postcard in pencil. 

What I'm trying to point out is that among his 
many virtues and his many weaknesses one virtue was 
that he got an incredible amount of work done by 
others and by himself and without much apparent 
strain. So we tended to take him rather casually- 
rather for granted. I don't think we realized how 
effectively actually, he was (in) mobilizing us to 
do things. 

One must be impressed also in reading this course 
description, with the fact that the students were not 
reading accounts about the music, but were actually 
experiencing the sounds, played by those who knew the 
music, on instruments appropriate to the culture. 

Many of Cowell's ventures can be found to have their 
origins in his evangelism for appreciation of unfamiliar 
music. This is true of his academic life and it is true 
for his endeavors outside the classroom. If no publishing 
house would print the music Cowell felt should be 
published, he established the means to do so. When 
recording companies ignored the experimental compositions 
in favor of those that would be profitable, Cowell began to 
record and distribute music which was unprofitable. When 
he could find no musical organizations to play the new 
works he established a workshop to do exactly that. 
Cowell's first workshop to play modern music at the New 
School was established in 1931. He would establish another 
(the New Music Workshop) in California in 1932, and would 

15 Rita Mead, "Henry Cowell's New Music, p. 228. 


be involved in another at Peabody in the 1950s. At the New 
School the workshop was a collective effort by several 
musicians : 

Course 57. Workshop in Modern Music-Charles 
Seeger Jr., Henry Cowell, Wallingford Riegger, 
Adolph Weiss, Joseph Schillinger and others. 
Hours and fees to be arranged. 

The object of this course is to develop a center 
for the technical pursuit of modern music to 
support the position that the New School has 
already established as a chief center in the 
appreciation of modern music. The workshop would 
include ensemble classes for various chamber 
combinations, classes for the practice of old and 
new music, elementary harmony and counterpoint, 
seminar in composition. 

Although the goals for the class may be ambitious, the 

purpose is clear; new music was to be rehearsed, discussed, 

performed, and heard. This course does not appear in the 

New School Bulletin each year, however, the concept 

continues throughout Cowell's tenure. The New School 

Bulletin for April 2, 1951 included this account of 

performance activities: 


The New School Orchestra, a group of about 25 
young people, all of whom are training to be 
professional musicians, grew originally out of 
Henry Cowell's classes on orchestration and compo- 
sition, and is now made up of students from the 
New School and other music schools in the city. 
The orchestra was organized to perform student* 
compositions, little played contemporary music, 
and also works of historical importance. It has 
no regular conductor but each member of the 
orchestra has a turn at conducting. At each 
meeting of the group, a vote is taken who shall 

16 New School for Social Research , Inc., Fall 1931, 
p • 3 8. 


conduct the next time and what the program shall 

The group rehearses every Saturday afternoon at 

the New School from 2:30 to 4:45 and anyone 

interested in attending is cordially invited to do 

In addition to the modern music workshop, Cowell 
instituted a series of concerts during the year that were 
held each Tuesday evening. The result of this activity was 
to put the New School in the forefront of organizations 
providing a forum for contemporary musicians. 

Harrison Kerr, Writing in Trend, touted the New School 

and Henry Cowell as being the only institution in the 

country actively engaged in promoting new music: 

It is a rather appalling feature of the case 
that there is no conservatory of music in this 
country making any valuable attempt to build up 
an American school of composition or even to 
recruit an audience for such music as our native 
composers may write. . . To the best of my belief 
the only intelligent effort along these lines is 
the one being made at the New School for Social 
Research in New York under the leadership of Henry 
Cowell. . . It is interesting to note that, of 
seventy-two courses offered for 1933-34, thirty- 
five have to do with the fine arts and that twenty- 
six of these are concerned partially, or 
altogether, with today's expression. This 
hospitality to a sphere of study not usually so 
considerately treated, is extended to the inclusion 
of thirteen courses in music, most of them 
concerned with contemporaneous effort. Many public 
musical programs are presented and are designed to 
be part of the various musical courses. these are 
attended by the students, of course, but are 
frequented as well by a musical public that finds 
there music that can be heard no where else. 
. . . detailed mention should be made of the 

17 New School Bulletin , April 2, 1951, pages not 


concerts of contemporary music. There are few 
places where the "advanced" composer is so cheer- 
fully heard or where so consistent an effort is 
made to bring recognition to the work of older men 
who have so far been unfairly neglected. 
Reputation and public acclaim seem to have little 
influence and over familiar music is refreshingly 
absent from the programs. 

The courses listed for 1932 included a new offering 

that more closely resembled the traditional music 

appreciation course by progressing from simpler music of 

the distant past to progressively more complex music of the 

present. Cowell did not treat the subject as a 

chronological review, however, as do most history and 

appreciation texts. His emphasis was on the 

appropriateness of the music to the culture in which the 

music grew: 

Course no. 70. The Place of Music in Society- 
Henry Cowell. 12 lectures. Wednesdays, 8:20-9:50 
P.M., beginning January 4. $10.00 

The uses of music to society and humanity; 
different types of possible value; its present 
and former use by various groups. The first six 
lectures deal with its historical position; the 
last six with its place in the modern world. 
Each lecture will be illustrated by music typical 
of the kind of society discussed. 
Jan 4. Music among primitives. Music and magic, 
ceremonial music, community music, individual 
music, corn-planting music, rain-inducing 
music, war songs. Illustrated by rare records. 
11. Music of peasant life: folk songs, peasant 
dances music for working, country hymn tunes. 
18. Music of the courts of emperors: Musical 
refinements and conventionality required by 

18 Harrison Kerr, "Creative Music and the New School," 
Trend, 2/1 (March-April 1934), 89-90. 


potentates and the influence they had on a 
style and good taste. 

25. Music for the church: the relation of music 
to morals, religious feeling in music influence 
on secular music. Illustrated by records of 
early church music. 

Feb 1. Military music: the use of music in the 
army, language of the bugle, stirring effect in 
battle. Illustrated with all types of military 

8. Music of the 18th century lower classes: Music 
intended to effect a wider emancipation. 
Illustrated with Moussorgsky, Beethoven, etc. 

15. Urban music: citified middle class music, 
radio and the spread of music suited for 
advertising, jazz and musical amusement, the 
movietone, proper sentiments for popular songs. 
Illustrated by radio and Jazz records. 

Mar 1. The influence of wealthy patrons: symphony 
orchestras, conducting gods; choice of works by 
ladies' committees, parlor music, the style of 
music demanded by the average patron. 
Illustrated by records. 

8. Gebrauchsmusik : Music for use only, to be 
liked for the moment. The spread of the idea 
through Germany, its influence on musical art. 
Illustrated with Kurt Weill. 

15. The use of music in Russia: Music as 

incitation, propaganda, amusement; relation of 
radical works to old music; the music made by 
workers; art music under Communism. 

22. Music among children: Music as it exists in 
public schools, as it is taught by the family 
music teacher, as it is really used by 
children. Illustrated by children's music of 
all kinds. 

29. The relation of music as an art to society: 
relation of musical materials to the emotion 
and spirit of music, the values of various 
musical feelings to human beings. How music as 
an art, as well as music as a language, may be 
beneficial. Illustrated by a number of works 
of different tendencies, showing the, influence 
of each tendency and where it leads. 

19 New School for Social Researc h, Inc., 1932-1933 
(1932), p. 49-50. 


This course was unique in ways other than the 
diversion from the usual chronological sequence. Some of 
the lectures were major portions of the course that would 
be mere mentions of phenomenon of passing interest in other 
courses; such as Gebrauchsmusik , and children's music. 
Music for the church, music for the military, and music for 
the courts are not unusual groupings, but urban music, and 
the use of music in Russia (especially music since the 
Russian revolution) are not common considerations in 
appreciation texts even today. Cowell did not include 
modern music as a major portion of this course as he did in 
virtually all other classes of an appreciation mode. This 
omission was (and still is) common among other writers and 
teachers, but is significant by the rarity of its 
occurrence in courses by Cowell. Considering the other 
work in contemporary music that was being offered at the 
same time, perhaps this course addressed an audience that 
had less inclination in that area. 

In the 1933 spring catalogue for the New School, a 
course was listed that comprised a series of concerts 
arranged by Cowell and presented and discussed by him. 
There was concerts of music from Tahiti, a Byzantine choir, 
African music, Gypsy music, Spanish and Latin American 
music, music of Bali, and folk music of Europe. It is not 
inconceivable that representatives of these groups could be 
found in New York, but it is staggering to think of the 


organization required to put on a concert series with such 
divergent cultures by what must have been, for the most 
part, amateur performers with lives and schedules of their 

Cowell began a course in 1933-34 entitled 
"Contemporary American Music." In this course he relied 
heavily on the members of various musical organizations 
such as the Pan American Association of Composers, the 
League of Composers, the International Society for 
Contemporary Music, and several others. In all, Cowell 
listed eleven organizations and six colleges represented by 
the guest lecturers. Cowell then listed forty-four 
individual composers who would participate. Among the 
names were: Marc Blitzstein, Aaron Copland, Ruth Crawford, 
Vivian Fine, Howard Hanson, Roy Harris, Daniel Gregory 
Mason, Walter Piston, Quincy Porter, Carl Ruggles, Carlos 
Salzedo, Elie Siegmeister, Nicolas Slonimsky, and William 
Grant Still: 

The course will consist of lectures on American 
musical tendencies and composers, copiously 
illustrated by composers and interpretive 
artists; of forums led by composers of different 
opinions who will discuss topics relative to 
their work and aims; and of chamber orchestra 
concerts of American works. 

All concerts will be introduced by a short talk 
by Henry Cowell, and all lectures will have 
musical illustration. 

20 New School Catalogue : 1933-1934 (1933), p. 41. 


As in many of the course descriptions quoted 
previously, Cowell listed the date of each lecture with a 
short description of the topic to be covered on that date. 
The scope of this course was enormous. It endeavored to 
gather the leading personalities in contemporary music from 
across the entire country, and present their ideas in class 
discussion. In many ways these courses resembled the 
"Salons" of the eighteenth century, when the musicians of 
the day would gather at the homes of literati and discuss 
and play their music, and those fortunate enough to be 
invited guests could hear Chopin or Liszt. Later, in 
Vienna there were the gatherings of the "Davidsbund" led by 
Robert Schumann. In the mid to late 1920s the tradition 
continued in New York with parties where Gershwin and 
Whiteman would discuss and play their latest creations. 
This was certainly the case of the New Music Society which 
Cowell founded in San Francisco, and from which the New 
Music Editions and the New Music Workshop developed. Small 
wonder that Harrison Kerr (mentioned above) considered the 
New School dedication to new music, under Cowell's 
direction, to be the most vital effort in the country at 
the time. 

In the same semester as "Contemporary American Music," 
Cowell offered his course "Comparisons of the Musical 
Systems of the World." The course title was changed, and 
the countries investigated were new. There were more 


mentions of records along with live performances. The 
catalogue also mentioned that the course in the Fall term 
would be taught by Henry Cowell, and that the course in the 
Spring term would be taught by Cowell's mentor Charles 
Seeger. The course was titled "Music Systems of the World 
(Comparative Musicology) . The parenthesis is Cowell's. 
Some of the musical systems illustrated in this course were 
Malaysian, Australian bushmen, Korean, Servian, African, 
and Madagascar primitive music. 

Despite the changes in countries, and a shift toward 
recorded examples (these changes may be a consequence of 
sharing the teaching duties with Seeger), this course again 
is an example of offering that which is unfamiliar to the 
general public. It is an attempt to widen the musical 
horizons of people who could be quite knowledgeable 
musicians, and yet have never had the opportunity to hear 
and understand these particular cultures. 

Cowell was in Berlin on a Guggenheim fellowship during 
the Spring term. When he returned for the Fall term of 
1934, his professor from the University of Berlin, Johannes 
von Hornbostel, Doctor of Philosophy, was included on the 
faculty list at the New School. 

21 Ibid., p. 42. 


For this term Cowell's comparative musicology class 
was again retitled: 

Course 80. Primitive and Folk Origins of Music- 
Henry Cowell. 12 lectures. Mondays, 8:20-10 
P.M. beginning Oct. 1. $10.00 

The real fundamentals of music do not lie in 
major and minor scales, common chords, names of 
intervals, etc., as customarily taught, but in 
the practice of primitive peoples. The purpose 
of this course is to show the beginnings of music 
and its slow development through folk music, 
Oriental cultivated music and early European 
cultivated music into our present system. The 
different types of music discussed will be 
illustrated with records and with concerts of the 
music of various peoples, played by natives. 
Oct. 1 The beginnings of music. Music of 

Eskimos, Bushmen, Weddas of Ceylon, etc. 
8 Music of more developed primitives; certain 

Indian tribes and South Sea Islanders. 
15. Music of high developed primitives, of 

Africans, Indians, etc. ORIENTAL MUSIC 
22. The transition from primitive to cultivated 

Oriental systems. Ancient Indian and Chinese 


29. Other Oriental music, Arabian, Japanese, 

Siamese, Balinese, Javanese 
Nov 5. A concert of Oriental music 

12. Folk music as a hybrid between primitive and 

cultivated systems. 
19. A further presentation of folk music. 
26. The transition from folk to European 

cultivated music 
Dec 3. How early European music grew from 

Oriental and folk sources. Illustrated with 

early music. 
10. The development of such masters as 

Bach, Beethoven and Schubert from earlier 

European music. 
17. The development of modern music from the 

older masters. 

22 New School Catalogue ; 1934-1935 (1934), p. 46. 


Interestingly, this course (the first after Cowell's 
studies in comparative musicology with Hornbostel in 
Berlin) is a synthesis of music history and "Music Systems 
of the World." Cowell makes the case that there is a 
progression in development from the music of primitive 
cultures to the music of the western cultures. This is 
contradictory to other of his writings in which he suggests 
that while Western cultures developed in the area of 
Harmony, Oriental cultures developed melody, and African 
cultures developed rhythmic complexity. 23 

A further consideration of this belief will be 
discussed below under the topic, "Music of the World's 
Peoples. " 

Although new music did not get a great deal of mention 
in the above course Cowell did offer a course in the 
understanding of new music: 

Course 81. Creative Music Today-Henry Cowell. 
12 lectures. Wednesdays, 8:20-10 P.M., beginninq 
October 3. $10. 

The creation of music is of the greatest 
significance; the viewpoint of creators of music 
is of vital interest, a necessity to any funda- 
mental understanding of music. This symposium 
course, led by Henry Cowell, will present many 
well known American and European composers who 
will discuss and perform their music, and will 
answer questions on all topics related to 
contemporary creative music. The composers will 
represent widely different tendencies, from 
conservative to modern. The following subjects 
will be discussed and illustrated; appreciation 

23 Henry Cowell, "Music of the Hemispheres," Modern 
Music 6/3 (1928-1929): 12-18. ^^ 


and evaluation of new creative tendencies, and 
their relation to older creative practice; 
philosophic and aesthetic problems of the creator 
of music; the relation of music to other 
sciences, such as psychology, physiology, 
acoustics, physics, anthropology; the materials 
of music; sound, rhythm, melody, harmony, 
dynamics, tone quality — and how composers use 
them; the relation of the performer and 
performance to creative music; "pure" vs. 
"program" music; radicalism vs conservatism in 
creative music; reactionary tendencies in 
contemporary creative music — neoclassicism, 
"gebrauchsmusik" ; national and international 
styles in musical composition; creative music in 
education; the composer's stand-point in teaching 
music; music and its relation to society; the use 
of music; proletarian music; the aim of a musical 

There are no date and topic listings for this course. 
The objectives were, as usual, ambitious. Cowell proposed 
to include the relationship of music to such sciences as 
psychology, physiology, acoustics, physics, and 
anthropology, as well as covering the elements of music, 
philosophy, and aesthetics. A great deal of sophistication 
on the part of the student seems to have been assumed for 
this course. 

The changing nature of the courses Cowell was teaching 
is significant. In almost every term the course title and 
course content was somewhat varied. This could be the 
result of experience, on the part of the teacher, as he 
developed a mature style, but it is more likely that Cowell 
was attempting to create a continuing audience for the New 

24 New School Catalogue ; 1934-1935 (1934), p. 47. 


School concerts and courses. By varying the offerings he 

could attract former participants again and again. Also by 

having a continuing clientele Cowell could count on an 

increasing level of sophistication from term to term. 

Those who were new to his courses would be forced to 

acclimate themselves to the level of those who were alumni 

of previous offerings, rather than having each new class 

begin again at the level of the beginner. Cowell also 

offered a series of six concerts, both as a course and as 

an auxiliary to "Creative Music Today." 

In the following term Cowell continued with the 

concerts of modern music. In this series each concert was 

devoted to the work of a single composer: 

Course 89. Five One-man Concerts of Contemporary 
American Composers. Alternate Friday evenings at 
8:30, beginning October 11. $5.00. 

For the first time in the annals of American 
musical history a series of five one-man concerts 
by native born Americans will be given. The 
composers chosen are outstanding representatives of 
American music today and have already won 
recognition both at home and abroad. The 
performance of their works will enable the listener 
to become familiar with much of the best music 
produced in America during the past ten years. 
The medium of the one-man concert will give the 
listener a more complete picture of the personality 
of each composer than would otherwise be possible. 
Several of the composers will take part in the 
performances of their works. 

Complete programs and participating artists will 
be announced later. The composers to be 
represented are 
Oct. 11 Roy Harris 

25 Roger Sessions 


Nov. 8 Virgil Thomson 

22 Aaron Copland ._ 
Dec. 6 Walter Piston. 

Once again we have Cowell presenting a series of 
events by composers who must be considered as "in their 
prime," and presenting works produced "in the last ten 
years." Should such a series be presented today, what 
composers would be represented, and what works, produced as 
recently as 1980 to 1990, would be chosen? Placing this 
course in the perspective of 1990 forces the realization of 
just how current Cowell kept his courses. It should again 
be noted that each of the composers represented is still 
today listed among the more prominent of composers of the 
twentieth century. It is also significant that, although 
Cowell himself was as well-known at the time as any of the 
composers represented, he did not include himself in the 
concert series. Perhaps he felt that the audience coming 
to concerts arranged by him would be sufficiently familiar 
with his own work that such an inclusion would not serve 
the purpose of bringing the unfamiliar to his students. 

During the same term, Aaron Copland presented a course 
at the New School entitled "Music of Today." Copland's 
course consisted of a series of sessions of recorded music 
by contemporary composers with analyses, commentaries, and 
piano illustrations (presumably by Copland). 26 The 

25 New School Catalogue ; 1935-1936 (1935) , p. 55-6 

26 Ibid., p. 56^ 


difference in approach between the two individuals is 
striking; Cowell brought in the composers themselves to 
discuss, explain and answer questions, Copland played 

Cowell repeated his course, "The Primitive and Folk 
Origins of Music," in this term with the same format, and 
essentially the same musical illustrations, but this was 
the last term Cowell would teach until the Spring of 1941, 
When Cowell did return, his first offering in the music 
appreciation area was modern American music: 

Course 101. Creative Music in America. 15 
weeks. Mondays, 8:20-10 P.M. $12.50. Henry 
Cowell. Beginning February 3. 

Indigenous music and the melting pot of 
influences from abroad. 

What is called the music of America is made up 
of a combination of influences from foreign 
countries together with musical practices which 
have through many generations become identified 
with the United States. Recent enrichments from 
many countries have strengthened the best foreign 
traditions. The rise of nationalism has 
sharpened appreciation of old native products. 
America has become the world's greatest musical 
land, but its people have not yet arrived at a 
knowledge of the musical styles, traditions and 
cliches which it harbors. To become acquainted 
with these, and to discuss important native and 
foreign born composers, is the purpose of the 
course. Musical illustrations are given, some of 
the composers appearing in person to explain and 
perform their works. Where such opportunities 
are not available recordings are used. 
Participating composers, artists and subject 
matter for individual dates will be announced. 

Among the composers to be discussed are: Bloch, 
Hindemith, Krenek, Schoenberg, Stravinsky, 


Copland, Harris, Ives, Piston, Ruggles«_Donovan, 
Hanson, Moore, Eisler and many others. 

No date specific information was given for this 
course. If Cowell had been working with a continuing 
clientele for his courses as has been suggested above, that 
audience would need to be regained after a four year 
hiatus, and a new audience developed. The composers 
discussed in this class were a curious assortment. The 
first five were all Europeans who had emigrated to the 
United States, the following nine were a mix of 
conservative and experimental native Americans. The 
combination covered the gamut of influences then bearing on 
classical music. 

This course was repeated in the 1941-1942 term, and 
there was an expansion of objectives that is interesting. 
Latin America was now included, as well as the uses for 
which American music is found. The comparison is 

Course 176. Creative Music in the Americas. 15 
weeks. Fridays, 8:20-10 P.M. $12.50 - Henry 
Cowell. Beginning October 3. 

Native American composers' works are being 
performed more than ever before, yet the under- 
standing of their aims and achievements lags. 

A large proportion of the world's greatest 
foreign composers now make their home in America. 
We wish to know what they are doing, what new and 
vital influences they are having on the 
development of creative music in this country. 

Musical composition in the Latin American 
countries has grown into a place of world 

27 New School Catalogue : Spring 1941 (1941), p. 63. 


importance. The strength of our association with 
the cultures of these lands grows apace; we need, 
through personal contact with the composers to 
know more of their activities. 

The aim of this course is to discuss the music 
that is now being written in North, South and 
Central America, to invite composers of 
attainment in the fields of serious and also of 
popular music who are working in these countries 
to appear as guests, and to discuss informally 
with the students the works which are performed 
by way of illustration. 

Topics: current uses of music, how the war 
affects musical creation, music for the theatre, 
for the movies, for the dance, music written to 
be sold, music for symphonic and chamber 
performance, music written to order for certain 
occasions, music for school and teaching, the new 
"Little Opera" movement, etc. 

Guest composers: Bela Bartok, Henry Brant, John 
Alden Carpenter, Hanns Eisler, Lehman Engle, 
Morton Gould, Roy Harris, Ernst Krenek, Earl 
Robinson, Charles Seeger* William Grant Still, 
Ernst Toch, and others. 

Although Cowell maintained that a major objective of 
this course was Latin and South American music, no Latin 
composers appeared in his list of guest composers. As this 
course was taught in New York City, the reason for the 
omission may have been that Latin composers were not in 
residence. Those composers who did appear in Cowell's 
lectures are those who were available in the vicinity at 
the time. William Grant Still, a black composer, did 
appear for the second time as one of Cowell's guest 

The description above resembles a statement of 
philosophy as much as it does a course outline. It is 

28 New School Catalogue : 1941-1942 (1941), p. 96. 


interesting that the course in Spring of 1941 seems to 
have emphasized the European influence, and the course in 
the Fall of 1941 looked to the work of Latin America. 
While the name of the course is the same, the course 
content is not at all similar. Speculation as to why this 
may be true could center on the war in Europe, which might 
have tended to discourage American musical connections with 
that part of the world, or it may have been Cowell's 
connection with the Pan American Association of Composers 
which prompted him to take a closer look at music in that 

This course was not repeated by Cowell. While his 
courses on contemporary music and "Music of the World's 
Peoples" continued to evolve, "Creative Music in the 
Americas" did not again appear in the catalogue. 

There were continuing opportunities for discussion of 
modern music. The music faculty of the New School held 
four "Symposiums on Current Musical Issues" on four Sundays 
in the 1941 Fall term. The course description mentions 
such controversial issues as: "values and trends in modern 
music, modernized arrangements of Bach, (and) the position 
of popular music." 2 (While no notes of these sessions have 
been uncovered, it is interesting to speculate whether 
Stokowski's heavily Romantic and overly orchestrated 

29 Ibid. , p. 94. 


transcriptions of Bach's works such as the C Minor Fugue 
was one of those "modernized arrangements'* which figured as 
a current controversial issue) . The proposed objective of 
the course was to "awaken interest, deepen understanding, 
add to knowledge, and above all, by presenting expert 
opinion on subjects where experts differ, to give students 
the means of forming more considered independent 
judgments." The symposiums continued through several 
terms at the New School, and seemed to have been a major 
part of the schools efforts in the area of modern music. 
Cowell had taught at the New School since 1930. He 
had been in charge of the musical activities until his 
incarceration in 1936. Upon his return in 1941 the 
leadership had passed to others, and his course load was 
more in the area of theory than in leading the progressive 
march into the twentieth century. His fellow faculty 
members were more conservative and from the European 
tradition which Cowell opposed: Hanns Eisler, Jascha 
Horenstein, Ernst Ferand, Rudolf Kolisch, and Georg Szell. 
In the Spring of 1942 a pair of courses was announced which 
seems to offer some insight into Cowell 's place in the 
hierarchy of the New School Faculty. The first half of the 
course "The Art of Listening to Music," was taught by Hanns 
Eisler. It stressed that listening must be taught, that it 

30 Ibid., p. 94. 


is not a natural gift. Forms, and components of music were 

stressed, and the works studied were all from the European 

tradition, with almost no effort toward understanding of 

the modern idiom. Cowell's section of the class was a 

continuation of Eisler's approach, and the description is 

laconic, almost insultingly sparse: 

Course 132. The Art of Listening to Music I. 
Hanns Eisler. 

Listening to good music is not a natural gift; 
it must be learned and practiced as the basis of 
any true relation to the masterpieces of the past 
and the present. 

The content of a given musical work of art is 
explained with a view to training the listener to 
recognize the components of musical compositions 
such as theme and accompaniment, variation, repeti- 
tion, contrast, development, etc. At the same time 
the work is studied not only for its historical 
musical setting but as part of culture and of the 
general development of society. 

Material for study includes principal musical 
works of Bach, Handel, Haydn, Beethoven, Schubert, 
Schumann, Chopin, Brahms, Wagner, Richard Strauss, 
Debussy, Schoenberg, Bartok, Stravinsky. 

Course 133. The Art of Listening to Music II. 
Henry Cowell. 

This class is open only to students who have 
completed Mr. Eisler's course. It affords 
continuation of training in listening to music 
from the same general standpoints-through further 
studies of music from old to new. 

Eisler's description of the course placed the teacher 

as the autocrat: he was the holder and dispenser of 

knowledge. It implied that the student is lacking in 

skills that only this course can impart. The music that 

31 The New School for Soci al Research: Sprinq 1942 
(1942) , p. ie~. -* — * 


was to be studied was from a list of composers that sat 
solidly in the European camp. Eisler did include some 
twentieth century composers, but no American ones, and 
those he included are well-established figures. Cowell's 
uncharacteristically sparse comments are at variance with 
his usually generous course information. 

The tone of Eisler's course objectives was as master 
to penitent: "listening is not a natural gift, it must be 
learned and practiced, . . .the content is explained with a 
view to training the listener." Cowell's normal course 
descriptions involved the listener as explorer: "the aim is 
to awaken interest, deepen understanding, add to knowledge, 
and by presenting expert opinion on subjects where experts 
differ, to give students the means of forming more 
considered independent judgments." Cowell was not listed as 
the teacher of this course in later catalogues, and, in 
1942-1943, he was limited to two courses in music theory. 

In 1943-1944, the course that would become Cowell's 

most popular, and would reflect his reputation as an expert 

in music of the cultures of the world, assumed it's final 

title and final form. There would be variations in content 

over the next years, but the changes would be minor: 

Course 213. Music of the Peoples of the World. 
12 weeks, Spring term. $10. Henry Cowell. 

Music has been called a world language, but it 
cannot be completely understood without some 
familiarity with the different ways in which it is 
constructed and used by peoples throughout the 


world. Listening in connection with a certain 
amount of introductory background, one may rather 
rapidly become used to different musical practices. 
This is not only an exciting exploration of new 
musical horizons, but it affords a deeper under- 
standing of the feelings of people of stranger 
races and nations. It is a kind of living history 
of music, with nearly every stage of historical 
development actually practiced somewhere in the 
world today. 

The purpose of the course is to present the music 
of the world to musical laymen through discussion, 
recordings and performances; much of it will have 
become familiar to returning American troops. 

I. What the world's musics have in common and what 
elements are found only in unique instances; the 
extensive development of harmony in Western music, 
or rhythm in Central Africa, of melody in India. 

II. "Uncultivated and cultivated" music: primitive 
and folk music; "classical" and popular music of 
the Western World; the many different musical 
cultures of the East. 

III. Primitive music in its least involved forms: 
music of the Esquimos, (sic) Australian Bushmen, 
of Tierra del Fuego, the South Sea Islands, etc. 

IV. The higher primitive cultures: Central African 
singing bands and rhythmic signaling; American 
Indian ceremonial music. 

V. Folk music of Ireland, Scotland, England, Wales. 

VI. Folk music of Scandinavia, Germany, France, 
Italy and other parts of Europe. 

VII. Folk music of Russia, Spain and the Balkan 

VIII. Hybrid folk music: folk and primitive mixed 
styles, or folk and cultivated styles, e.g. 
American negro, American popular, American "Hill 

Latin American, Hawaiian, Tahitian, etc. 

IX. Oriental music: East Indian, Islamic, including 
the Near East, Malay, Thailand, Java, Bali, etc. 

X. Oriental music: Chinese, Japanese, Korean, 

XI. Music of Minority groups in the United States. 

XII. Little known country music of the United 

32 The New School : School of Politics * School of 
Philosophy and Liberal Arts . Courses of Study : 1943-44 


This course revealed Cowell's intense fascination in 
music of other cultures. This fascination was the 
propelling factor in his earlier study in Berlin with 
Hornbostel, and he had done extensive traveling, collecting 
and learning of musical practices since that time wherever 
he went. 

In the notes for the course can be found further 
elaboration on musical development as can be found earlier. 
Cowell states that examples of stages of development of 
Western music are to be found in the primitive cultures of 
the world today, but that certain cultures have developed 
components of music to a greater extent than other 
cultures. This is more consistent with his other writings 
than the explanation of musical development which was given 
in his course on comparative musicology, "Primitive and 
Folk origins of music," in 1934. 

Whether Cowell was still reacting to the "Listening to 
Music" course which he had taught with Eisler or not, it is 
interesting to compare his rationale on listening in this 
course with Eisler's above. Eisler informs us that "it 
(listening to music) must be learned." For Cowell the 
point is not that listening must be learned, but that what 
is heard can be interpreted in a more meaningful way: 
"Listening in connection with a certain amount of 
introductory background, one may rather rapidly become used 


to different musical practices." The difference in the two 
approaches is more than semantic. It is an expression of 
philosophy concerning the relationship of teacher and 

Stuart Feder, who studied with Cowell at Peabody 
Conservatory in 1952, recalled Cowell »s teaching style in 
the following manner: 

He (Cowell) was rather diffident and shy almost, 
with students. (He was) never pompous, always 
respectful, always trying to be helpful; always 
treating you as if (you were) a colleague rather 
than from the distance of a professor. This was 
the late forties as you'll recall, or early 
fifties, and I for one found this somewhat 
disconcerting. Usually teachers didn't treat one 
in this egalitarian manner. 

I remember once I met him at a concert of John 
Cage's music, a Sunday night in New York City, 
and he was going back to Baltimore on the same 
train that I would later take, and it was with an 
easy-going friendliness that he commented that he 
would look to see me on the train, that we would 
ride together. I was too shy to take up his 
invitation at that time. 

In the Spring of 1945 Cowell announced a course that 
was out of the ordinary not only for him, but for the New 
School : 

Course 225. Music as an Art and a Livelihood. 
15 weeks. Tuesdays, 6:20-8 P.M. $15. Henrv 
Cowell. J 

Spring term, beginning February 6. 

The earning range of a top concert artist; 
opera singer; symphony conductor; radio star- 
free lance or school teacher; composer — 
Hollywood, Broadway, or free lance. 
Contracts: the music publisher; the manager; the 

33 Stuart Feder, in tape to present writer, 
November 4, 1990. 


union. Influence of patronage on style, with 
musical illustrations: the church; the nobility; 
the state; the corporation; the wealthy 

In this connection, the following composers are 
discussed: Palestrina, J.S. Bach, Haydn, 
Beethoven, Wagner, Chopin, Shastakovi tch, Domingo 
Santa Cruz, Vernon Duke- .Korngold, Roy Harris, 
Charles Ives, Gershwin. 

This course may have been as a result of Cowell's own 

career in dealing with various personalities in the music 

field, including commissioned works, getting his works 

performed, and restrictions placed by unions and other 

forces. The course was not repeated either by Cowell or by 

the New School. Although this course was uncommon in the 

1950s, there are similar courses given in music schools of 

today which deal with the business side of music from the 

standpoint of the composer, the performing artist, and the 

producer. Douglass Seaton of Florida State University 

refers to them as new curricula: 

Another current issue is the emergence of new 
curicula in the field, including the area often 
identified as music business and technology. 
. . . What impact these developments will have on 
music departments is an open question, especially 
m terms of resource allocation, student 
recruitment, and the placement of graduates. 
This matter is particularly challenging during 
the times of retrenchment that many institutions 
are currently experiencing. 


35 Douglass Seaton, "The Emergence of New Curriclua ■ 
Tf9 o'? C Sage n 92 -3T^ ^^^ ^ Regional Meetings , 1988 , 


The list of composers in Cowell's course is amusing, 
given his penchant for presenting the less familiar. He 
began quite properly with a list of six European masters, 
then he skewed the roll with a Russian modern, a Latin 
American, a song writer, two serious American 
contemporaries, an Experimentalist, and George Gershwin 
(who could be listed in several categories) . 

Cowell did not teach at the New School in the 1945- 

1946 school year and, in the following year (1946-1947), 

his responsibility was in the Music Theory area completely. 

In 1947-48, he returned to teaching "Music of the World's 

Peoples," and the course format and list of topics were 

much the same as listed above. He continued to have guest 

artists demonstrate ethnic music in person: 

Irish traditional singing will be presented by 
Eileen Curran Herron in Henry Cowell's class, 
"Music of the World ' s.Peoples, " Friday, 
January 14, 8:30 P.M. 

In 1948 in addition to "Music of the World's Peoples," 
Cowell offered a very similar parallel course: 

Course 294. Music of the World's Peoples in 
America. Henry Cowell. 15 weeks. Fridays. 8-30- 
10:10 P.M. $17.50. 
Spring Term, beginning February 11. 

This is a sequel to Course No. 293, Music of the 
World s Peoples, but may be taken independently. 


36 New School Bulletin , Vol. 6/17 (December 27, 1948) 
ges not numbered. ' 


Native music may be heard from all over the 
world in the United States. Aside from the 
indigenous Indian music, some of which has 
changed very little since pre-Columbian times, 
all traditional music in America comes from 

Some of it, e.g. British dances and ballads, 
has changed very much during its several hundred 
years in this country; similarly French and 
Spanish folk music as now heard among Cajuns of 
Louisiana or Mexicans in the Southwest. 
Extraordinary hybrids, such as American Negro 
music and the Broadway hit parade style, have 
been born of the fusion of elements originating 

It is possible, on the other hand, to find 
very old music surviving with little or no 
change, especially among the older people. 
Witness the chanting of the Kalevala by Finns in 
Minnesota, the playing of tamburitzas by Serbs in 
Chicago and so on. In a few cases, the old 
traditional music of other peoples is better 
preserved in the United States than in its 
country of origin. Western music has greatly 
affected the music of China and Japan, for 
example; but in San Francisco these oriental 
peoples preserve and teach their own classical 
musical culture, untouched by that of other 
peoples here. 

Music of many peoples in the United States is 
discussed and performed by players in person and 
on recordings; whenever possible, expeditions are 
made to hear foreign-music played by native 
groups in New York. 

There was no topic by date listing given for this 
course. It would be instructive to know what cultures were 
included. Even without the specific topics, this was an 
extraordinary addition to the course listings. Living in 
New York, this course would have been more than an 
interesting diversion, it would be a cultural necessity, 
due to the diversity of cultures that are found and 

37 New School Bulletin , 6/1 (September 29, 1947): 156. 


preserved there. Cowell was familiar with the music of San 
Francisco's Oriental community from his youth, and he had 
been in touch with many of the ethnic groups in New York 
through his "Music of the World's Peoples" lectures. He 
certainly had the resources for presenting this 

In the New School Bulletin of Mar 22, 1948 two 
programs in conjunction with the "Music of the Peoples of 
the World" were advertised: 

Announcing two programs in the Series MUSIC OF 
April 2 — The Byzantine Singers, directed by 
Christos Vrionides/ Traditional Byzantine and 
Greek music, Richard Browning, tenor; Carl 
Buchman, baritone, Willard Van Woert, bass; 
Nelson Starr, Basso-prof undo. 
April 16 — Wasantha Singh and His Group: East 
Indian Music Fridays, 8:30 P.M. in the 
Auditorium. Single Admission fi $1.00. Complete 
programs in later bulletins. 

Most of Cowell 's courses were presented in the evening 
hours. The following two courses were presented during the 

Course 296. the Meaning of Modern Music. Henry 
Cowell. 15 weeks. Fridays, 11:20 A.M. -1:00 P.M. 
$17.50 Fall Term, beginning October 1. This 
course is suggested as preparation for the course 
Living Composers, but is not prerequisite. 

It deals with these questions: What does 
music mean to the composer, and how can the 
listener enter the composer's world: What 
constitutes meaning in music? How did modern 
(music) develop from classical music? How does 
musical meaning emerge in the various types of 


38 New School Bulletin , Vol. 5/30 (March 22, 1948) 
ges not numbered. 


contemporary music? Important works are heard by 
the leaders of several schools of thought, 
including Schoenberg, Stravinsky, Bartok, Ives, 
etc., and their different uses of music as a 
language analyzed. 

Attention is given to new materials and 
philosophies of music, to the use of folk 
elements in modern music, some recent 
experiments, and probable developments. 

With this offering Cowell returned to his mission of 

developing an audience for modern music. The questions 

posed could well stand as instructional guides for music of 

any era. Although the materials and conventions of music 

may change dramatically over a period of time it might well 

be that the understanding of what the music meant to the 

composer of that music is the key to understanding the 

music itself. 

This course was followed in the Spring term by another 
course dealing with modern music: 

Course 297. Living Composers. Henry Cowell. 15 
weeks. Fridays, 11:20 A.M. -1:00 P.M. $17.50. 
Spring term, beginning February 11. 

A course for laymen, presenting the music of 
the significant contemporary American and 
European composers, many of whom appear 
informally to discuss their approach to music, 
explain specific compositions, answer students' 
questions, etc. Guest composers are chosen to 
represent contrasting backgrounds and esthetic 
philosophies. They often play or present in 
recordings their less frequently heard music. 
Among those who met with the class during the 
Spring of 1948 were Jacob Avsheclomov, John Cage, 
Paul Creston, Richard Franko Goldman, Otto 
Luening, Douglas Moore, Robert Sanders, Virgil 
Thomson, Edgard Varese, Robert Ward and Frank 

39 New School Bulletin , 6/1 (September 6th, 1948): 157. 


Wigglesworth, all of whose works were heard in 
New York during the season, in the ffeld^ of 
opera, symphony, chamber or solo music. 

This course was essentially the same course that 
Cowell had presented earlier under varying titles. It put 
students in direct contact with contemporary artists, and 
in this particular case there seems to have been an attempt 
to present composers whose works were being performed in 
New York at that time. Their appearances with the class do 
not appear to have been coordinated with the performances 
of their works for the concert going public, but their 
works were certainly available and recent. 

Cowell did not restrict his courses to venues at the 

New School: 

Henry Cowell's class, "The Meaning of Modern 
Music," Fridays at 11:20 AM will hold its January 
7 session in the studio of John Cage, 326 Monroe 
Street (cor. Grand Street and East River Drive). 
Maro Ajemian will play Cage's prepared piano 
music; the composer will comment. Members of 
other classes may attend by contacting Mr. 
Cowell through the Bulletin office, 5th 4 |loor and 
purchasing single admission in advance. 

Another entry has Cowell's class in an even more unusual 

Henry Cowell conducted his regular class, course 
1253, "Music of the World's Peoples," at the 
Brooklyn Museum, Wednesday, November 2 which by 
special arrangement, stayed open from 6:20-8:00 

40 New School Bulletin , 6/1 (September 6, 1948): 157. 

41 New School Bulletin , Vol. 6/13 (December 27, 1948) 
pages not numbered. 


PM, so that the students could see the exhibit of 
oriental and primitive musical instruments and 
play upon them. 

In the March 22 New School Bulletin the composers who 

would "discuss and play recordings of their works or 

perform them in Henry Cowell's course" were listed as 


April 1 — Virgil Thomson — recording of his Hymn 

Tune Symphony, and Four Saints in Three Acts. 

Mr. Thomson is music critic, New York Herald 


April 8 — Richard Goldman will play assorted piano 

works. Mr. Goldman is on the faculty of 

Julliard School of Music 

April 15 — Rand Smith, baritone — recital of modern 

American songs, including songs by Charles Ives, 

Ernst Bacon and others. This recital takes place 

at 5:00 p.m., Dance Studio, before the regular 

meeting of the class when Dr. Moore is guest 

composer. Mr. Smith has been with the 

Philadelphia Symphony Orchestra. 

Douglas Moore — recordings of his 1st Symphony 

which was played by the New York Philharmonic 

Orchestra, Sunday, February 22 last 

Douglas Moore is head of the music department of 

Columbia University. 

While he was teaching these classes, the New School 
offered more traditional fare, taught by others on the 
music faculty: "Mozart's Operas," "Beethoven's Nine 
Symphonies," and "The Great Instrumental Forms as 
Exemplified in the Piano Sonatas and the Quartets of 
Beethoven. " 

42 New School Bulletin , Vol 18/12 (November 21, 1960): 
pages not numbered. 

43 New School Bulletin , Vol. 5/30 (March 22, 1948)- 
pages not numbered. 


Cowell's courses in 1949 and 1950 followed the same 

format as for 1948. It is not until the summer of 1951 

that Cowell introduced a new course: 

Course 130. The Nature of Music. Henry Cowell. 

Tuesdays and Thursdays, 8:10-10:00 P.M. $17.50. 

A general introduction for laymen. No 

prerequisites. Illustrated at the piano and 

through recordings. 

How music imparts meaning 

The basis of rhythm in sound: organized beats and 


The basis of melody: modes and scales 

The development of polyphony and counterpoint 

Music from Palestrina to J. S. Bach 

Harmony and overtones 

Tonality and classical forms: song form, dance 

form, sonata form 

Haydn and Mozart 

Musical instruments and performers 

The symphony: symphonic development, Mozart, 

Beethoven, Brahms 

The opera: Wagner, Verdi, Moussorgsky, etc. 

Popular country music — folk music 

Popular city music--jazz, ragtime, rhumba, bop, 


The meaning of modern music: Debussy, Schoenberg, 

Stravinsky, Ives, Bartok 

The present scene: music and aims of younger 


The present position of music: influence of 

manager, publisher, radio, and recording. 

This is a summer class, meeting twice a week instead 

of the usual once a week of the regular school term. It 

did not have the innovative approach that is found in most 

of the other descriptions. Here Cowell turned from the 

sophisticated listener to the musical newcomer. The 

concepts were more basic, and there was no list of guest 

lecturers. Instead of live music the illustrations were at 

44 New School Bulletin , 8/32 (April 9, 1951): 32. 


the piano and through records. The organization was of a 
type which might be found in a text by Sachs, (Our Musical 
Heritage, ) or Paul Henry Lang (Music in Western 
Civilization) . By 1951 Cowell was teaching at Columbia and 
Peabody (as well as at the New School) and both Sachs and 
Lang were professors at Columbia at that time. The link is 
tenuous, but Cowell would have known them and their work. 
As he did not write his own text, it is likely that he 
would have taken advantage of available materials. 

Since 1948 Cowell had been teaching "The Meaning of 
Modern Music." In 1951 he added a second portion to that 

Course 717. The Meaning of Modern Music II. 
Henry Cowell. Fridays, 8:30-10:10 P.M. $17.50. 
What does music mean now? 
This course is for laymen. There is no 
prerequisite, but the Meaning of Modern Music I 
constitutes advisable preparation. 

Composer guests of various nationalities and 
shades of modernism and conservatism are invited 
to play and discuss their music informally with 
students. They often bring privately recorded 
examples of their larger works which are not 
otherwise available. There is discussion of the 
works and meaning of such composers as Alban 
Berg, Anton Webern, Hindemith, Prokofieff, 
Varese, Cage, Virgil Thomson, Copland, 
Shostakovich, Peter Mennin, David Diamond, et 
al., and of such questions as: What has happened 
to experiment in modern music: Why is there a 
strong trend toward writing in the style of 
medieval church music? Why do many young 
composers abandon originality in favor of a style 
integrating old and new elements? 45 

45 New School Bulletin , 9/19 (January 7, 1952): 106. 


This is vintage Cowell. Questions were posed that the 
guest lecturers and students could address. It followed 
the format which he had used in the past, and there was so 
little difference between the descriptions of "The Meaning 
of Modern Music I" and "The Meaning of Modern Music II" 
that one might wonder why it was offered at all. The 
answer may lie in the need Cowell had to gather like minds 
together to discuss and listen to music, and to prepare a 
new generation to hear and understand that music. Over the 
years he had offered courses at the New School in which 
students and composers had met together for this purpose, 
and this course may be less for the purpose of enrichment 
than it was for the structure it provided for the gathering 
of like minds. 

Although no detailed descriptions are given for 
Cowell 's courses at Columbia or Peabody, the courses in 
those institutions seem to have adhered more closely to a 
traditional curriculum than did the courses at the New 
School: "Form and Analysis", "History of Music," "Music of 
the Twentieth Century," etc. The descriptions that are 
provided give only a meager outline: "Music Literature I, 
two credits. Bach and his period. One hour a week 
throughout the year. Mr. Cowell." 46 

4 6 Peabody Conservatory of Music : Catalogu e 1952-1953 
1952} , p. 56. — 


At Peabody, Cowell was responsible for a course on 

teaching. Considering his lack of a formal educational 

degree this assignment may be questionable; given his 

experience in teaching and his supportive pedagogical 

style, however, the choice may have been highly 


Principles of Teaching, two credits. 

General psychological principles and their 
application in teaching music of all grades and 
branches; materials of music; general and 
specific teaching procedures; class organization; 
individual problems. One hour a week throughout 
the year. Mr. Cowell. 

At Columbia the courses are listed with no 
descriptions. In 1950-51 Cowell was assigned three 
courses: "Literature of Opera," Literature of the 
Symphony," and "Twentieth-Century Music." 48 He taught the 
same three courses in the following year. 49 

In 1953-1954, and in 1954-1955 Cowell taught only 
composition at Columbia. These courses will be discussed 
in the section dealing with him as a teacher of composition 
and theory. 

It was only at the New School that Cowell was given 
the freedom to develop courses in his own style. This is 
not surprising as both Peabody and Columbia are 

47 Peabody Conservatory of Music : Catalogue 1952-1953 

48 Music Bulletin of Columbia Unive rsity: School of 
General Studies 1950-1951 (1950) , p. 15. 

49 Faculty of Philosophy Bulletin : 1951-1952 (1951), p. 
8 2. 


institutions which have the education of young people as 

their purpose, with the Baccalaureate degree as the goal. 

The New School was established for adult education, and 

most of Cowell's courses were for non-degree purposes. 

The following course description is easily 

recognizable as a course in music history. Cowell's 

title and approach, however, mark it as distinctively his 

own, and from the New School rather than from Peabody or 


Course 643. Musical Iconoclasts: 2700 B.C. - 
1953 A.D. Henry Cowell. Fall, Mondays, 8:30- 
10:10 P.M. $21. 

An introduction to modern music for the lay 
music lover, non-technical. 

How music has changed from the familiar to the 
new. Huang Ti, Pythagoras, Guido di (sic) 
Arezzo, de Pres, Monteverdi, Bach, Mozart, 
Beethoven, Wagner, Debussy, Ives, Stravinsky, 
Shoenberg, Gershwin, Cage and others are heard 
and discussed. 

Although each of the composers listed in this course 

may well be described as breaking new ground, who but 

Cowell would brand them as iconoclasts, and teach about 

them from this point of view? The notes suggest that this 

course was for the layman, but there was still a level of 

sophistication demanded. In order to understand the 

difference between the familiar and the new, the student 

was expected to be somewhat knowledgeable with that which 

was familiar. In the 1990s that assumption may not be 

50 New School Bulletin , 10/1 (September 1, 1952): 


valid. In New York City in 1952, for those who might have 
been taking Cowell's courses at the New School, such fore- 
knowledge may have been more common. 

A special announcement concerning one session of this 
class appears in the New School Bulletin of November 24, 
1952. "Guest Speakers: Pierre Boulez, the 'most hissed 1 
composer in France. Mr. Boulez will discuss his sonata 
which will be played by David Tudor, Pianist." 51 

In the 1953-54 school term, in addition to "Music of 
the World's Peoples," and the composition and theory 
courses he was teaching, Cowell added a course which would 
again emphasize his commitment to new music. Its format 
was one that he used in 1931 for "Appreciation of Modern 
Music," in that the emphasis was on analyzing music rather 
than the examining the trends of the composers. There was 
no indication that guests would explain their efforts. 
Instead the class examined specific compositions of a 
variety of composers. The title was also intriguing, as it 
suggested that some music of the twentieth Century was 
already sufficiently known and understood to receive the 
approbation "classic" (at least by Cowell). It should be 
noted that again, Cowell did not include any of his own 
works in this list. His choice of music to be included may 

51 New School Bulletin , Vol. 10/13 (November 24, 1952): 
Pages not numbered. 


have included works that are questionable as classics, but 

there was certainly a variety of styles and types of 


Course 865. Classics of 20th Century Music. 
Henry Cowell. Fall, Tuesdays, 11:20 A.M. -1:00 
P.M., Spring, Mondays, 8:30-10:10 P.M. $21. 
Developments in contemporary music often 
derive from pioneer works which have become world 
famous, and about which schools have formed. 
Such works are performed on records, discussed 
and analyzed for laymen. 
Sep. 29 Introduction to the subject of modern 

classics; Debussy, Pelleas et Melisande 
Oct. 6 Richard Strauss, Salome 
Oct. 13 Scriabin, Prometheus 
Oct. 20 Ives, the Concord Sonata 
Oct. 27 Schoenberg, String Quartet Opus 30 
Nov. 3 Stravinsky, La Sacre du Printemps 
Nov. 10 Hindemith, Mathis der Maler 
Nov. 17 Prokofieff, Classical Symphony 
Nov. 24 Berg, Wozzeck 
Dec. 1 Barto'k, Quartet #4 
Dec. 8 Stravinsky, Symphony of Psalms 
Dec. 15 Copland, Appalachian Spring 
Dec. 22 Riegger, Symphony #3 
Jan. 5 Thomson, Louisiana Story 
Jan. 12 Contemporary developments: Cage, Musique 
Concrete, etc. 

This course deviated in format from courses on new 
music which Cowell has taught in the past, but the 
objective of becoming familiar with new music was clearly 
in evidence. 

A course in which guest lecturers did not participate 
did not signal the end of Cowell's efforts to bring live 
music and living composers into his classroom. In his 
"Music of the World's Peoples," during the same term, he 

52 New School Bulletin , 11/1 (September 7, 1953): 116, 


listed visiting artists who would demonstrate the music 
being discussed. 

The following term both opera concerts and "Current 
Music Concerts" were in the catalogue. The latter were 
described as "An experiment seeking to enhance the 
communication of music through personal contact of 
composer, performer, and listener: composers are present 
for the performance of their music. Many first 
performances and works composed for the concerts." Some 
of the composers listed for the concert series were: 
Luening, Persichetti, Robert Ward, Jack Beeson, Goeb, 
Riegger, Hovhaness, Robert Kurka, Bergsma, Dai-Keong Lee, 
Bernard Rogers, and Hugo Weisgall. On January 5, 1953 
there was a concert of works by Cowell. 54 

The two series of concerts were similar in concept to 
the "Music Workshops" mentioned earlier. Composers and 
students were brought together to hear and discuss the 
latest in musical trends. 

In 1954 "Classics of 20th Century Music" was repeated. 
Many of the composers discussed were the same ones as in 
the previous year, but Berg's Wozzeck was the only piece of 
music that was discussed in both years. Cowell included 
his Fourth Symphony in this course, and added Luening and 

53 New School Bulle tin, 12/1 (September 6, 1954): 

54 Ibid. 


Ussachevsky to the composers. Debussy was represented by 
Nocturnes instead of Pelleas et Melisande ; Ives by The 
Unanswered Question instead of the Concord Sonata. The 
most likely explanation for the difference in works studied 
is that students could repeat the course without repeating 
the same material. 

While Cowell did not regularly include his own works 
in his courses, Concerts of his music were performed at the 
New School. Some of the concerts were special occasions, 
such as the one in honor of Cowell* s twenty-fifth 
anniversary at the New School on November 16, 1953. Other 
concerts including Cowell's music were presented at the 
School from time to time. Cowell's students were 
presented in concerts as well: 

Henry Cowell Presents: a concert of unusual 
compositions by the young composers: Richard de 
Lone, Natalio Gala, John Duffy, Bert Bacharach, 
students in his classes at the New School and the 
Peabody Institute of Baltimore. . . performers, 
Raymond Brown, baritone; Ronald Knudsen, violin; 
Marian Morris, piano; Alix Maruchess, viola 

Cowell's courses did not change format or title for 
the next several years. He gave up his association with 
Columbia in 1955 and with Peabody in 1956. He continued 
teaching at the New School, but with a year off in 1956 to 
take a world tour. "Classics of 20th Century Music" became 

55 New School Bulletin , Vol. 10/13 (November 24, 1952) 
pages not numbered. 


"Masterpieces of 20th Century Music" in 1958, but the 
course content was not appreciably different. Cowell 
continued to teach "Music of the World's Peoples," and 
"Masterpieces of 20th Century Music until 1963. 

Composition and Theory 

Cowell was cautious (in his own studies) about being 
influenced by the ideas of others. Sidney Robertson Cowell 
recalls that he had an initial reluctance to study with 
Charles Seeger. "When friends offered to send him for 
'consultations' with Charles Seeger at UC Berkeley, he 
agreed in spite of his prejudice against 'received wisdom' 
because he found his pieces were all too short and he 
thought Seeger might be able to show him how to lengthen 
them." 56 

Charles Seeger recalled that he discovered early in 
their relationship that Cowell was a complete autodidact. 
"He never learned anything from anybody else; he 
appropriated what he liked and paid no attention to what he 
didn't like." 57 

It is interesting that he did not advocate the same 
avoidance of 'received wisdom' in the training of others. 
In "Contemporary Musical Creation in Education" (Etude, 

56 Sidney Cowell, in a letter of May 7, 1990, to present 

57 Rita Mead, "Henry Cowell's New Music, p. 22. 


September, 1954 p. 49.) Cowell recommended the study of 

previous practice as the basis for professional 


The best training in older theoretical subjects 
is needed as a background for the understanding 
of this century's involved practices. The only 
great difference of opinion lies in whether old 
rules should be modernized in presenting the 
subject to the student, or preserved in their 
more conservative form. 

Personally, I favor the latter position. It 
would seem to me that if a serious student is 
ever to understand the history of musical theory, 
he must have a complete grasp of harmony and 
counterpoint in the strictest manifestation. 
Only then can he understand the nature of 
proposed changes and developments. 

And no matter whether one reacts favorably or 
unfavorably to the modern schools of thought it 
is entirely necessary for the professional 
student to know in detail what they advocate and 
how they have developed from older areas of 
musical knowledge. 

This apparent shift in thinking may be explained by 

the comments of S. R. Cowell. "The people who encouraged 

him (Henry Cowell) early all belonged to an era and a 

cultural concept that urged him to depend on "inspiration" 

alone, and not on anything learned from what other people 

did, (but) he became impatient early with the emphasis on 

"inspiration," because he discovered that some sort of 

conscious thought about musical possibilities was a very 

desirable preliminary, at least for himself. "59 

58 Cowell, "Contemporary Musical Creation in Education," 
p. 49. 

59 Wiley H. Hitchcock, "Henry Cowell's Ostinato 
Pianissimo," Musical Quarterly , 70 (1984): 27. 


Cowell's own development from experimenter to 

mainstream composer was echoed in his assessment of the 

public attitude toward "modern" music: 

"Modern" music at one time was thought of as 
breaking the rules of harmony and counterpoint, 
and most of it was considered chaotic. Now it is 
apparent that all modern music that shows signs 
of survival displays orderly musical processes. 
Most of these reflect a growth and development 
from older practices, usually by slow and 
understandable degrees. There are surprisingly 
few instances in which new ways appear to be used 
merely in protest against old rules. 

Takefusa Sasamori, another of his composition 

students, recalls that Cowell required a thorough knowledge 

of harmony and counterpoint. In Cowell's words: "Freedom 

and deviation come only after learning the basics 

thoroughly. Master harmony and counterpoint completely." 

He further stated: 

In my case, he gave me man to man lessons about 
harmony and counterpoint. It was so strict that 
I could not (understand the difference between) 
his liberal teaching and the technique of musical 

At that time, I had thought that I had finished 
those basics once, and had learned enough. Now I 
appreciate (his efforts) very much. 

That Cowell was an effective teacher of composition is 

easily established when one considers the stature and 

accomplishments of some of his former students, among them 

60 Cowell, "Contemporary Musical Creation in Education," 
p. 11. 

61 Takefusa Sasamori, in a letter of April 24, 1990, to 
the present writer, translated by Minoru Ohsige. 


John Cage, Lou Harrison, George Gershwin, Bert Bacharach, 

Frank Wigglesworth and Takefusa Sasamori. 

Mrs. Sidney Cowell recalls that: 

"When George Gershwin came to him for lessons 
(at the height of Gershwin's career) because he 
wanted to be able to free himself from arrangers 
and do everything in a piece himself, Henry had 
the quaint notion that sixteenth century counter- 
point would teach him what he needed to know. 
Apparently in a way it did, but the lessons 
(stretched over two years or so) could never be 
very regular, and when Henry met Joseph 
Schillinger, he was sure this was just what 
George needed, and indeed they got along like a 
house afire. I think that PORGY AND BESS was 
the first piece that Gershwin wrote without any 
help f rom,anybody , writing down every note 

The composer John Cage developed Cowell *s ideas in the 
area of prepared piano techniques further after studying 
with him at the New School and becoming his assistant for 
awhile. Cage felt that Cowell influenced him in two 
important ways: first the book New Musical Resources 
encouraged him to enter the field of music, and second "to 
hear through him music from all the various cultures; and 
they sounded different. Sound became important to me, and 
noise is so rich in terms of sound." 63 

62 Sidney Cowell, in letter to Frank Wigglesworth, 
August 13, 1990, copy sent to present writer by Sidney 
Cowell. J 

63 Richard Kostelanetz, Conversing with Cage (New York- 
Limelight Editions, 1988), p. 39. 


Lou Harrison calls Cowell "the most important 
influence in my life. "He assigned me problems (in 
composition) and I learned how to construct the melody out 
of melodicles. " 

Cowell did not teach classes in either composition or 
theory in his early years at the New School. Olive Cowell, 
(his step mother) in her list of courses and lectures 
(compiled in 1934) , did not include any courses in 
composition that Cowell had taught up to that time. She 
did list some "work courses" in music, but these were in 
the nature of a series of lectures rather than courses for 
developing composers. Some of the titles of these course- 
lectures were: 

Modern Harmony 

A Physico-Mathematical Theory of Composition 

Melody writing 

Theory and Practice of combining rhythms 

New Possibilities in Piano Playing. 

The lectures listed above can be traced to Cowell's 

earlier activities. He had been, and was at that time, 

still engaged in publishing music so modern as to be 

unprofitable. A series of lectures on Modern Harmony would 

have been an outgrowth of those current interests. The 

64 Toshie Kakinuma and Mamoru Fujieda, "I am one of Mr. 
Ives' Legal Heirs: an Interview with Lou Harrison " Sonus. 
9/2 (Spring 1989): p. 47. 

65 Olive Cowell, Henry Cowell : A Record of His 
Activities , unpublished typescript in the Rare~~Book room 
of Peabody Conservatory of Music, Compiled June 1934, 

p. 11. 


Physico-Mathematical Theory of Composition was one of the 
primary concepts behind his book New Musical Resources, 
written in 1916-1919, and discussed in Chapter Two. Cowell 
was to write a book on Melody in 1938, and on Rhythm in the 
period from 1935 to 1938, and his experiments in Rhythm led 
to his association with Leon Theremin and the invention of 
the "Rhythmicon." Cowell also later contributed the 
articles on "Music" 66 and "Rhythm" 67 in Collier's 

A course description for "Theory and Practice of 
Rhythm" is found in the New School catalogue: 

Theory and Practice of Rhythm-Henry Cowell. 10 
sessions. Mondays at 5:30 P.M., Beginning 
September 30 $10. 

This course is planned for students of music 
and the dance. The principles involved will be 
illustrated by class performance on various 
percussion instruments. 

Rhythm, as expressed in sound, is a basic 
element of both music and the dance. Musicians 
and music students need to understand the 
principles of the theory of rhythm in order to 
play with greater dynamic freedom, and as a 
preparation for the study of harmony and creative 
music. Dancers and dance students need the 
experience of working with rhythm in sound in 
order better to express such rhythm through 
bodily movement. The best way for the practical 
accomplishment of these ends is through the 
medium of creative rhythmical performance on 
percussion instruments. 

This class will consist of such performance. 
Each student will be given different percussion 
instruments on which to work. Elements of the 

(1950): e ?i r 0-n5 e11 ' " MUSiC '" collier's Encyclopedia , 13 
(1950)" e i9-20° We11 ' " Rhythm '" Collier's Encyclopedia , 16 


underlying theory and science of musical rhythm 
will be presented and illustrated by the class on 
instruments. How to create diversified 
improvisations and compositions on percussion 
instruments, suited to the dance will be shown, 
and there will be practice in making such 

Although this course might have been very helpful for 
student composers, it seems evident that it was a course 
for the general public. 

As for "New Possibilities in Piano Playing," giving 

this lecture had been Cowell's trademark since his middle 

teens. A description of this course is found in the New 

School Catalogue for 1933-1934: 

How a wide range of new and musical sounds may be 
obtained from the piano through the application 
of new technical approaches, and a study of how 
to apply the new techniques. 10 sessions. 
Wednesdays at 5:30. 

The courses mentioned above do not appear to be a part 

of a systemized course of study in the area of composition. 

There is no mention of prerequisites, and no mention of 

application of the principles to a student's own work. 

The first indication of courses offered in the area of 

composition or theory at the New School are "Elementary 

Harmony" and "Modern Harmony" found in the catalogue of 

1934-1935. The descriptions of these courses in the 

68 New School Catalogue : 1935-1936 (1935), p. 57. 

69 New School Catalogue : 1933-1934 (1933), p. 43. 


catalogue offer an interesting insight into Cowell's 

a. Elementary Harmony-Henry Cowell. 10 sessions. 
Mondays at 4:30 beginning October 1. $10. 

A study of elementary harmony for beginners, 
presenting both the conventional and contemporary 
approaches to the fundamentals and considering 
how these fundamentals lead into advanced 
harmonic concepts. There will be discussion of 
the problem of teaching the basic facts of 
harmony to children without narrowing their 
eventual musical concepts. 

b. Modern Harmony-Henry Cowell. 10 sessions. 
Wednesdays at 5:30 beginning October 3. $10. 
This course is for musicians and advanced 
students. It will analyze and consider the 
construction of the harmonies used in modern 
music, and will show how conventional chord 
progressions ace related to modern chord 

The last sentence in the description of "Elementary 
Harmony" reveals again Cowell's concern for involving very 
young children in the creative aspect of music. It also 
reveals his interest in fostering this creative interest 
without at the same time inhibiting the imagination. 

In an article in New Era, Cowell expands on the 
methods by which creativity and composition may be 
combined. "The teacher teaches creative music by creating 
it himself as he teaches, showing how he does it, what the 
problems are and how he is solving them. He shows the 
students what materials they may use, and suggests that 

70 Catalogue of New School For Social Research 1934- 
1935 (1934) , p. 48. 


they work along with him." 71 Cowell felt that the creative 
process involved making choices, and that good teaching 
involves helping the student to make informed and 
successful choices: 

If one is confronted with making a choice from 
the vastness of all the potentialities of sound 
and rhythm-to choose one thing from among 
billions of possibilities-the difficulty is 
almost insurmountable. On the other hand, if one 
is asked to decide whether to take one or the 
other of two different intervals of sound in a 
certain place, both of the possibilities being 
played, it_is an easy matter to say, "I'll take 
this one! ■ 

Cowell did not feel that this was a narrowing of 
eventual concepts, provided that the child is permitted to 
make his own choices, with no sense of approval or 
disapproval. "He must make his own absolutely free choice, 
with no prompting. But the materials he uses must be 
selected for him, and presented so that any choice will 
result in something praise-worthy." 73 with the very young 
child the choice may have to be between two examples which 
are played by the teacher. In the case of the older 
student the choices may be between two examples played by 
the student: 

One little one wailed that she couldn't think 
what to do after deciding to start a tune on 'C. 
So I suggested that she reduce the matter to 
making a choice — from 'C one has to either take 

71 Henry Cowell, "Teaching Children to Create Music," 
New Er_a, 21 (July-August 1940): 181. 

72 Ibid., p. 182. 

73 Ibid. , p. 181. 


a higher note, or a lower note, or repeat the 
•C — that was the first choice. Then, after she 
decided to go up. I suggested that she might go 
up either a step to 'D', a small skip to 'E', or 
a larger skip to 'F 1 . She could find all these 
notes on the piano, so she solemnly tried over 
these three possibilities, and finally decided to 
take the small skip to 'E'. I then suggested 
that if she would repeat the same process again 
to choose a third note, after trying over the 
first two notes again to hear the relationship, 
she would have the beginning of a melody, or a 
'motive'. She did this, and got hold of "C, 
•E', and 'D', which she liked; I then started to 
try to aid her in getting started on the rhythmic 
problem, telling her to try out having all the 
notes the same, or two shorts and a long one, or 
the reverse; but it soon was evident that she 
didn't need any rhythmic aid to getting started, 
and she dashed off at a great rate, ending up 
with a completed tune. The question of whether 
to have regular or irregular numbers of measures 
and beats in tunes came up naturally, through 
someone's wondering about it rather than any set 
lecture on the subject; and the same was true in 
regard to teaching how to invert and retrograde 
motives. All the class was vastly interested in 
the idea of using a motive as building matter, 
and getting new forms by such means as well as 
through sequences. 

Cowell recommended the avoidance of all consideration 

of "what music means," or extra-musical associations. 

"The knowing teacher can win as great an interest, right 

from the start, in the essences of music itself, and with 

far more valuable results to the child's development in the 

long run. " 

Cowell also felt that success in early endeavors was 
likely to lead to continued interest and efforts, and that 

74 Ibid. , p. 181-182. 

75 Ibid. , p. 181. 


having the student work along with the teacher, or the 
teacher to work along with the student was more likely to 
produce the early success that so vital to the continuance 
of the activity. 

Basic harmony studies at the college level today 
consist of a two year, five hours a week commitment. To 
have covered both elementary harmony and modern harmony (as 
is indicated in the New School catalogue description above) 
in twenty sessions must have been difficult. Cowell may 
have found this to be the case also. By 1950 the courses 
were: Pre-Elementary Music Theory (For "absolute 
beginners", how to read notes); Elementary Music Theory 
(clefs, scales, chords, keys, etc); Intermediate Music 
Theory (traditional harmony and counterpoint) ; and Advanced 
Music Theory (comparison of contemporary systems of musical 
composition) . There were also courses in Orchestration and 

7 fi 


Between 1934 and 1950 the theory offerings went 
through several changes. In 1941 the description was as 

Workshop in Musical Theory 15 weeks. Mondays, 7- 
7:40 P. M. $15. Henry Cowell 

Beginning February 3. Harmony, melody writing, 
counterpoint, rhythmic theory, form and 
composition. The course consists of elementary 
training in these subjects, taken together so as 
to coordinate the elements of musical theory, and 

76 New School Bulletin , 8/1 (Sept. 4, 1950): 126-7. 


to study them in relationship as well as 


Pre-requisite: ability to read notes. 

I Chords and how to combine them 

II How to construct melodic motives and 
continue them into a melody 

III The combination of melodies into 

IV Development of larger rhythmic structures 
into musical form 

V How all of these materials are fused in 
musical composition. 

An early attempt to include composition in the 

curriculum at the New School was made in 1935. The 


was designed to explore the process of creating music: 

The Creation of Music-Henry Cowell. 12 sessions. 
Wednesdays, 8:20-10 P.M., beginning October 2. 

The purpose of this course is to show in a 
practical way how a natural approach may be made 
to music through creating it, and how this 
approach can be so simple that it can be made by 
anyone. Neither special creative genius nor 
years of arduous technical training are necessary 
in order to make the direct approach to music 
through learning the first steps of its creation. 

The course is especially designed for three 
classes of people: for beginners in music who 
desire their first approach to music to be a 
creative one, rather than one of performance 
alone; for performers of music who have never 
studied musical composition and who wish to know 
something of it; for music teachers who wish to 
study the method of teaching creative music, 
either to children or to adults. 

The work in the course will consist in 
showing how to construct the germ of a melody; 
how to continue it; and how to find appropriate 
rhythms, forms and harmonies for it. 
Compositions will be created for the class by Mr 

X JJ ( i94^° gUe §| — Sch ° o1 fSf Social Research : Spring 


Cowell, who will explain each process, and then 
by students. 

From this course description it is obvious that Cowell 
did not find the creation of music to be an intimidating 
process. Anyone could do it, from the beginner to the 
musically sophisticated. There does not appear to have 
been any requirement about the ability to read notes or to 
notate the music that one created. 

Cowell was not represented in the course catalogues 
from 1937 until 1941, and when he did return to the New 
School, "Creation of Music" was not among the offerings. 
Whether the course was unsuccessful, or whether the 
enrollment was not sufficient for continuance is unclear. 
As was noted above in the section on Music Appreciation, 
Cowell was no longer in charge of musical activities when 
he returned to the New School in 1941, and the reins had 
passed to those who were cast in a more traditional mold. 
It is possible that Cowell 's approach to creating music was 
thought to be too frivolous for continuation at the New 
School . 

It is interesting that Mr. Cowell was so confident of 
his ability to compose that he was able to do it on demand 
in front of a class for demonstration purposes. He was to 
demonstrate this in an even more conclusive manner when he 

78 The New School for Socia l Research: 1935-1936 
p. 56. ' 


composed TV Song ; for Impromptu Chorus and Orchestra 

(Lichtenwanger #765, Dec 9, 1951) in front of a studio 

audience on Public Television: 

Ever the innovator, Henry Cowell appeared on 
WBAL-TV in Baltimore on Sunday, December 9, 
(1951) . He is the first composer to write a 
song, then and there, under the eyes of a TV 
audience. Ogden Nash, originally scheduled to do 
an original poem on the same broadcast, bowed out 
at the last minute. 

"As the verse was composed (by the studio 
audience, collectively?), Cowell wrote out the 
music on a blackboard. Copyists immediately made 
parts for the orchestra. The Song was rehearsed 
and performed, and the telecast wound up with a 
bang instead of a tone cluster. This was 
undoubtedly a first on television, and historians 
might take note" (American Composers Alliance 
Bulletin 2:1 (Feb 1952) : 12) ) . 

The first indication of a course for students of 
composition given by Henry Cowell, the composer, at the New 
School is in 1941. The description was uncharacterist- 
ically brief: "Open only to serious students of composition 

who have theoretical training." The course was not 


With the start of the 1942-1943 school year Cowell 

seems to have settled into a pattern of teaching 

undergraduate music theory courses at the New School. He 

continued to teach both the Introduction and the Advanced 

courses until 1955. Although the Introduction to music 

remained a basic skill level course the Advanced course 

79 Lichtenwanger, The Music of Henry Cowell , p. 241, 

80 New School Catalogue : 1941-1942 (1941) , p. 98. 


seems to have been, at times, more in the style of his 

lecture courses and designed for the serious student of 

composition, or the more sophisticated consumer/listener. 

There is no indication that the course participants would 

produce assignments in the various styles: 

Music Theory: Advanced: the Twentieth Century 

six lectures, beginning February 3. Musical 

Theory underlying materials of modern composers 
from Debussy through Stravinsky, Schoenberg, 
Gershwin, fi to Cowell and Cage. Limited to 16 

Considering that Schoenberg was a personal friend and 
that Gershwin and Cage were former students, the 
information available in this course was first hand. Six 
composers were listed for a total of six lectures, so it 
may be assumed that each lecture was dedicated to style of 
a particular composer. As Cowell also taught a course 
entitled "Living Composers," which examined the 
characteristics and influence of contemporary composers, 
the Advanced Music Theory course listed above may have 
emphasized the techniques used in creating the music, as 
well as the listening skills needed to appreciate the 

The next composition course taught by Cowell was 
Creative Music and Free Composition in the Fall and Spring 
semesters of the 1944-1945 school year. "Admission by 

81 New School Catalogue September : 1946 (1946) , p 109. 


consultation with the instructor to those who have 

completed elementary and advanced music theory courses at 

the New School, or who have had equivalent training hours. 

The processes of musical creation are discussed and the 

creative work of students is reviewed and criticized by the 

instructor. "82 This was the second of the courses in 

composition at the New School. There was a similarity in 

intent with this course and the course "The Creation of 

Music" from 1935. Creativity was emphasized as well as the 

"processes of musical creation." This repetition of 

emphasis as well as the articles on creativity already 

quoted reveal that for Cowell, teaching composition 

included more than just checking student work for "errors." 

It meant involving the students in finding creative 

solutions to compositional dilemmas. Cowell was more 

concerned that the student write effective music than 

stylistically correct music. 

One student, Stuart Feder, gives this account of 

Cowell' s classroom technique: 

Cowell. . . was really very flexible and had no 
set method or agenda. Whatever the student was 
interested in, whatever he could help the student 
develop, why that was how he approached you. 

He had a rather wide view of what constituted a 
music lesson; hardly structured, and if one got 
off on some tangent that he thought useful, why 

82 New School Catalogue : 1944-1945 (1944) , pages not 

83 Stuart Feder, in tape to present writer, Nov. 4, 


that would be as useful as sitting and going over the 

Takefusa Sasamori, another former student, also found 

that Cowell's classroom technique was student-centered 

rather than subject-matter oriented: 

The form of the classes were to give corrections 
for the works, and to consider and analyze the 
style of composers of the present age. The 
examinations were our own works, and descriptions 
of the styles of the composers of the present 

We could compose our own music in any form or 
style. We were checked strictly for correctness 
of the music from the performers point of view. 
It was more important than content. 

I remember one incident clearly. One of my 
classmates had composed metrical music which had 
a different tune in each part; it was 
polymetrical music. That technique would not be 
accepted at Darius Milhaud's classes in which I 
had just been studying. Professor Cowell did not 
deny that idea (that was a surprise for me) . But 
he advised the student to unify the bars across 
all the players parts. He did not say "must," 
but said "it.would be better especially for the 
conductor. " 

Cowell was not represented in the Catalogue for the 

following year, 1945-1946, and "Creative Music and Free 

Composition" was not repeated in 1946-1947 even though 

Cowell was again on the faculty. For the next years Cowell 

was listed as the professor for Elementary and Advanced 

Music Theory courses, and his popular general music course, 

"Music of the World's Peoples." He was not listed as 

teaching any courses in composition. "The Meaning of 

84 Takefusa Sasamori, in letter to present writer, 
August 24, 1990. 


Modern Music," "Living Composers," and "The Nature of 
Music" which are all lecture courses, were also listed 
during this time, but were not offered each year. 

In 1951, Cowell expanded his teaching career to 
include an appointment at Columbia University. While he 
had served as an adjunct professor at Columbia for several 
years previously, he had not been listed in the regular 
course catalogue. At Columbia Cowell taught three courses: 

"Literature of Opera," "Literature of the Symphony," and 

"Twentieth Century Music. In 1951 Cowell continued his 

courses at Columbia and the New School and added an 

appointment At Peabody. The following courses were listed 

after his name at Peabody: Composition, Form, History, and 

Music Literature. 

The question that must be raised about Cowell's 

teaching assignments is "why is a composer of Cowell's 

stature not teaching courses in composition?" The answer 

may be found in the professional jealousy inherent in 

musical circles. Cowell had no formal music degree, no 

formal training; and his music was sometimes naive, often 

lacking in the European style of development. Many people 

regarded his tone clusters as no more than the happy 

85 Music Bulletin of Columbia University , School of 
General Studies : 1950-1951 (1950), p. 15. 

86 Peabody Notes , 6/1 (Fall 1951): p. 2. 


accident of adolescent experimentation. That this kind of 

prejudice existed seems to be verified by S.R. Cowell: 

(He) seems to have been continually in hot water 
(at Peabody) because of his failure to follow the 
course outlines provided by some sort of lady 

. . . What I believe was his first full-time job 
at the University level was at Columbia 
University, beginning about 1950. But the staff 
there already had several composers, and Douglas 
Moore was quite clear that he couldn't risk 
subjecting Columbia composition students to the 
risks inherent in teaching by a man given to tone 
clusters, so Henry was always given the big 
general courses required of everybody, and he 
taught composition with severe admonition from 
Douglas only when one of Columbia's regular 
composers was on leave. But at Peabody, 
and especially at Eastman, and, briefly, at the 
University of Southern California in Los Angeles, 
he was engaged as teacher of -composition and 
highly valued in that role. 

Cowell himself writes of the difficulty which he 

encountered when presenting his music to the established 

musical community: "Nothing in my early experience had 

prepared me for the professional musical world's fanatical 

belief that the conventions of the European tradition of 

8 8 
that time were the only possible ones." 

The teaching load for which Cowell was responsible, in 

1951-1952, is staggering: 

87 Sidney Cowell, in letter to Frank Wigglesworth, 
August, 13, 1990, copy sent to present writer by Sidney 

88 Cowell, "From Tone Clusters to Contemporary 
Listeners," p. 5. 


New School Peabody Columbia 

Music of World's Form and Analysis Lit. of Opera 
Meaning-Modern Mus History of Music Lit. of Symph 
Living Composers Music Lit 1,11,111,1V 20th Cent Music 
Pre Elem Mus Theory Music Lit V, VI , VII, VIII 
Elem. Music Theory Music of 20th Cent 
Int Music Theory Principles of Teaching 
Adv Music Theory Principles of Composition 
Orchestration Works 

Cowell's own compositional output declined during this 
time. Lichtenwanger listed only five pieces which date 
from this period, one being the TV Song for Impromptu 
chorus and Orchestra mentioned above. 

Despite the number of courses he taught in 1951-1952 
only "Principles of Composition" at Peabody and 
"Orchestration Workshop" at the New School were actual 
courses in composition. It was not until the 1953-1954 
school year that Cowell taught composition at Columbia. 
The following year he had a course in "Advanced 
Composition," but this was his last year as a professor at 
Columbia. At Peabody Cowell taught theory and literature 
courses, but also had students in composition. In the 
1955-56 catalogue the course "Introduction to Contemporary 
Composition" was described in this manner: "Twelve Tone 

Technique, Hindemith style and neo-modal writing. One hour 

8 9 
a week throughout the year." 

89 Peabody Conservatory of Music : Catalogue : 1955-56 
(1955), p. 60. 


Several of Cowell 's composition students were 
represented in the student recitals at Peabody during this 

period. In 1952 Richard De Lone's Three Songs for Soprano 

were presented in student recital, and in the same year 

Stuart Feder's First movement from Sonatina was 


All of this frenetic pedagogical activity came to an 

end at the close of the 1955-1956 school year. "As this 

issue of The Peabody Notes goes to press, Henry Cowell bids 

farewell to the Conservatory and to Baltimore. Upon the 

advice of his physicians, he is terminating his several 

9 2 
teaching responsibilities here and in New York." 

A new effort in teaching began again at the New School 
in the 1957-1958 School year and continuing until the 
Spring of 1963, but (with the exception of Advanced 
Composition in 1958 and 1959) Cowell was listed as 
professor for only "Music of the World's Peoples" and 
"Masterpieces of 20th Century Music." 

In the summer sessions of 1962 and 1963 Cowell was 

hired for Advanced Composition at the Eastman School of 

Music in Rochester, NY. S.R. Cowell recalls that: 

Like all newcomers his students the first summer 
were the weakest or least gifted, but his 

90 Twenty-fourth Peabody Student 's recital , recital 
program, Tuesday Afternoon, May 6, 1952 at 4 o'clock. 

91 Twenty-sixth Peabody Student's recital , recital 
program, Thursday Afternoon, May 15, 1952 at 4 o'clock. 

92 Peabody Notes , Winter 1956, p. 15. 


reputation grew and his classes increasingly 
filled with the best students, to the point where 
they were larger than he liked. (This was 
composition only.) . . . and, after the end-of- 
semester recitals of student work, during which 
every composition student had at least two pieces 
played and sometimes more, some with orchestra, 
Henry told me with great satisfaction that his 
students' work was so much the best that it was 
embarrassing! Herbert Elwell, an old friend of 
mine from Paris who was also on the summer 
compositional faculty, told me he was impressed 
with-what Henry was able to get his students to 

Cowell was enthusiastic about his work at Eastman: 

At Eastman I found that I was not just 
politely allowed , but actively expected to expose 
my students to whatever contemporary techniques 
were least familiar to them, in addition to 
supporting and broadening whatever ideas they had of 
their own. this spirit of openness, of 
awareness, of inquiry and tolerance have been 
thoroughly built into the philosophy of Eastman, 
and they influenced everything about the program 
in the most consistent and practical way. 

Given the background of his experiences at Columbia 

and the New School, the emphasis on the words "allowed" and 

"expected" in the above quote have added significance. He 

was permitted, even encouraged, to teach in a manner that 

to him was most important. He was well accepted and 

comfortable at Eastman because he found it "one of the few 

places where he could concentrate on teaching 

93 Sidney Cowell, letter to Frank Wigglesworth. 

94 Henry Cowell, "Freedom for Young Composers," Music 
Journal, 20/3 (March, 1962) : 30. 


composition." It is regrettable that his career there 

was cut short by illness. 

Cowell, as mentioned above, was not adverse to having 

students learn the techniques of other compositional 

models, but was quite clear that the student should not be 

limited to the models of his teacher, and should find his 

own method of expression: 

I do not see at all why a composer should be 
limited to the usual material used in Europe for 
the past 350 years. What interests me is music 
itself as organized sound, its form, and all the 
possibilities of a musical idea: to write as 
beautifully, as warmly and as interestingly as I 

The convention for the teaching of an art which 
we inherited from Europe assumed that a great 
artist was the best teacher, and each teacher 
took pride in placing his own imprint on his 
pupils, and in establishing his own "school" with 
its own tradition." 

This establishing of "schools" by composers, and for 

that matter by other artists, served the artist well. 

Students could fill in for the master from the master's 

sketch, thus increasing output, and works begun by the 

master could be completed, when need be, by talented 

protegees. History abounds with examples such as 

Sussmeyer's completion of Mozart's Requiem. In addition, 

95 Sidney Cowell, in letter to Edward Carwithen, May, 7, 

96 Thomas Scherman, "Henry Cowell," Cyclopedia of Music 
and Musicians , p. 457. 

97 Cowell, "Freedom for Young Composers," p. 30. 


the artist needed only to explain his own methods of work. 
There was no requirement to be familiar with the work being 
done by others in the field. To Cowell, such a manner of 
teaching served the student poorly, as the student then was 
limited to imitation for a great portion of his creative 

He was dismayed that students of Hindemith, for 
example, did not study other modern composers. This dismay 
is echoed by another American composer/teacher, Samuel 
Adler. "Hindemith was a typical European. He taught from 
the point of view that if you wrote like him, and if you 
got his technique, you had a technique to express yourself. 
Then you could do whatever you want if you have any 

imagination, you wouldn't sound like him. That was 

9 8 
erroneous." For all of Cowell's affection for, and his 

support of Schoenberg he found it curious that Schoenberg's 

classes for an entire semester consisted of the study of 

Mozart rather than 20th century composers. "After six 

weeks of intensive study Schoenberg said to the class: 

•Gentlemen, you now know all you need to know regarding 

musical composition. Go out and write your own music.' "99 

Nadia Boulanger's students (Aaron Copland, Walter Piston, 

Roy Harris) composed in the manner of the Franco-Russian- 

98 Samuel Adler, in personal interview with the writer, 
Jan. 19, 1989. 

99 Koch, Reflections on Composing , p. 66. 


European tradition which had been established by 

Stravinsky. Cowell's opinion was that composition 

students should know all of these techniques, but not be 

bound to any single one. Instead the student should 

alternate periods of study with periods of creativity and 


"make creative use, from the beginning, of 
whatever technical skill he may possess at a 
given moment. . . . that it is the teachers 
responsibility to help a student establish for 
himself an alternation of creative practice with 
periods of purely technical study and 
practice, and, of course, with conscious 
observation of styles:"101 

Unfortunately, because it presents difficulties 
in study, all contemporary music is not unified 
in a single philosophy or technique; 
consequently, several philosophical viewpoints 
and several techniques need to be examined. 
Since it is far too early to determine that any 
one system is "right" while another is "wrong," 
all of those systems which have exerted wide and 
serious influence need to be studied and compared 
factually, without bias. It is my firm opinion 
that when a final unification of compositional 
principles of the twentieth century is made, it 
will combine ideas and techniques now considered 
wildly at variance. 

Cowell reiterated this theme in his composition 


"Nobody any longer can remain safely 
encapsulated within a single inherited tradition, 
nor can the most radical musical inventions 

100 Cowell, "Freedom for Young Composers," p. 30. 

101 Ibid. 

102 Cowell, "Contemporary Music Creation," p. 11. 


remain untouched by tradition." He (Cowell) felt 
that a composer today must in the course of his 
training learn to know intimately, to be able to 
handle and to use acceptably all of the major 
symphonic techniques, not only modal and Baroque 
counterpoint, but several kinds of dissonant 
counterpoint and harmony, atonality, polytonality 
and the twelve tone row, and to understand at. n _ 
least more than one kind of electronic music. 

The depth of Cowell' s concern on this point may 

be gauged by the frequency with which he expresses 

himself about it: 

The question of whether you, as a composer, 
wish to utilize old rules in your creative work 
is one that only you, in the long run, can 
answer. You cannot answer it if you do not know 
what the rules are, not only in theory, but in 
refinement of practice. And they have the 
importance of being the very rules that have had 
obvious influence on the writing of nearly every 
composer whose name we honor. 

. . . Many composers, after surveying the whole 
field, may wish to write very conservatively. 
But before such a conclusion is reached, as a 
mature matter of reflection, every contemporary 
medium must be examined. . . . So, far from 
being relieved of the responsibility of study, 
the unfortunate composer must study fundamental 
techniques until they are an unconscious part of 
his expression, and he must study all of the 
extensions of such techniques and new 
applications of aesthetics which have developed 
in the twentieth century, as well as knowing such 
practical matters as how to adapt his ideas to 
the best interests of voices and instruments, a 
subject not learned in a day. To write well in 
any manner, whether conventional or 
unconventional, he must know the aesthetics, and 
the technical practices used to carry them out, 
of every important composer and Q period, from St. 
Ambrose to the present moment. 

103 Koch, Reflections on Composing , p. 66. 

104 Henry Cowell, "What Should Composers Study?," The 
Peabody Notes , 6/3 (Fall, 1952), pages not numbered. 


On a more personal note Frederick Koch, one of 

Cowell's students at Eastman, gave this impression of him: 

Unlike most professors, he lived with the 
students in the dormitory, so it was possible to 
have friendly chats with him at breakfast and 
supper which were always full of good laughs 
because of his puckish humor and constant puns. 
In the evenings he would play bridge with a group 
of students or demonstrate the playing of his 
piano pieces which he loved to do. While living 
in the dormitory he composed one of the concertos 
for the Japanese koto, a harp-like instrument 
with thirteen silk strings tuned over movable 
bridges. He was completely devoid of any self- 
importance. Cowell thoroughly enjoyed the 
company of the students and was vitally 
interested in whatever was going on. 

Dr. Wayne Barlow was on the composition faculty at 

Eastman at the time that Cowell was there, and wrote this 

assessment : 

In a real sense a great teacher reveals himself 
in his teaching, and this was certainly true 
... of Cowell. I have fond memories of working 
with both Elwell and Cowell during a number of 
summer sessions at the Eastman School. The 
students of all these men were exceedingly 
fortunate; for they came away, if they were at 
all perceptive, with both a reverence for music 
as an art and a profound awareness of the 
difficulty as well as the rewards of writing 
it. ° 

Cowell and the MENC 

In assessing Henry Cowell's contributions to music 
education one should not overlook his affiliation with the 

105 Koch, Reflections on Composing , p 63. 

106 Wayne Barlow, in Frederick Koch, "Reflections on 
Composing, p. 7. 


Music Educators National Conference, and with the Pan 
American Union. The MENC has been of major importance in 
fostering music through its programs, publications, 
conferences, and research. One of those projects was the 
"Pan American Union Research and Educational Project." Its 
purpose was to "encourage wider use and better 

acquaintanceship with Latin American music in the United 

States. "■ LU/ 

As Vanett Lawler, the Executive Director of the MENC, 

explained the program to the MENC Board of Directors: 

We are not so much concerned with injecting our 
folk music or our American music into South 
America. The whole point of the Pan American 
Union is "What can we take from you, South 
America: what can we learn from you?" Their 
concern in connection with this project is to 
encourage more, extensive use of Latin American 
music up here. 

Cowell became involved in this project through the 

influence of his teacher and mentor, Charles Seeger. 

Seeger was the first chief of the Music Division of the Pan 

American Union, which was founded during the World War II 

to increase cooperation and unity between the nations of 

the Western hemisphere. Cowell succeeded Seeger in this 


107 MENC Minutes, Proceedings, and Reports: Board of 
Directors Minutes, Chicago, 10-12 Oct. 1941, From Special 
Collection in Music, the University of Maryland, College 
Park, p. 16. 

108 Ibid. 


Mr. Seeger . . . hired two very good musicians, 
Mr. Cowell and Mr. Goldman, to go over a great 
stack of material which had been accumulated from 
several sources--the Pan American Library, people 
who had visited South America, and so on. Mr. 
Seeger asked Mr. Cowell and Mr. Goldman just to 
separate the so-called modern music, of which 
there was an abundance. 

The Editorial Project for Latin American Music, as it 

was called by the Pan American Union was viewed by Cowell 

in the following manner: 

Out of all the serious music examined, the 
Project first concentrated on Latin American 
works suitable for use in the public schools. It 
obtained the cooperation of the MENC for this 

... It is worth noting that only a small 
percentage of our North American modern composers 
have interested themselves in writing for school 
use, but virtually every famous name among the 
modern Latin Americans is represented among those 
whose works will now be a part of the music 
program of the public schools of America. I 
think it may safely be said that nowhere can 
better modern material be found for this purpose 
than in the best of what-has been written by 
these Latin Americans. 

The result of this project was a collection of songs, 

pamphlets, orchestral works, books, dances, piano pieces, 

and recordings suitable for use in public school music. 

This collection was made available to authors and 

publishers of school materials. A complete listing of 

109 Ibid. , p. 17. 

110 Henry Cowell, "Improving Pan-American Music 
Relations," Modern Music, 19/4 (May-June 1942): 264, 


collected materials was published by the MENC in 1946 under 

the title Music Education Curriculum Committee Reports. 

Cowell was also involved in a major MENC project 

"Widening Horizons for Music Education." He was Vice 

Chairman of the Committee on Contemporary Music in the 

United States. On this committee with him were many 

prominent figures in music, among them were Samuel Barber, 

Aaron Copland, Ferde Grofe, Richard Franko Goldman, Morton 

Gould, Howard Hanson, Roy Harris, Otto Luening, Douglas 

Moore, William Schuman, William Grant Still, and Deems 

Taylor. The committee report is included in the appendix. 

The expressions in the report of the Committee on 

Contemporary Music in the United States and the thrust of 

the efforts in the Pan American Union Research and 

Education Project reveal a compatibility in objectives with 

the notes associated with Cowell's courses at the New 

School. This compatibility is sufficiently strong as to be 

regarded an extension of Cowell's efforts in his other 

endeavors to influence the general public in the music of 

contemporary composers. 

Ill Music Education Curriculum Reports (1946) , pp. 64- 
6 6. 


Synopsis of Teaching Career 

For course content, Cowell seems to have drawn on 
whatever musical examples were available to him at the 
time. In his early lectures he used his own music, 
demonstrating at the piano. In later courses on the 
World's Peoples, he persuaded ethnic groups in New York 
City to come to his classes and demonstrate their music. 
In courses on contemporary music he invited the composers 
of the day to perform and discuss their music in the class. 
As a teacher of composition he encouraged his students to 
become proficient in all styles of contemporary writing. 

This eclectic approach to all facets of his work has 

been identified previously by Bruce Saylor as being the 

unifying feature of his compositional style: 

That common (stylistic) thread is, in this 
writer's opinion, the composer's basic attitude 
of freedom in all musical matters, his belief 
that music may be made from any materials 
available at any given time, his unbiased 
encouragement of a broad spectrum of styles, 
fostering less restricted compositional 
experiences for the young, and even relinquishing 
much of the control that composers have 
traditionally retained over the final form of 
their works. Henry Cowell the man is a 
generalized phenomenon whose point of view 
transcends any of his various musical styles, and 
is realized through the many aspects of his life. 
His whole is greater than the sum of his 

112 Saylor, "Ideas of Freedom in the Musical Thought of 
Henry Cowell," p. 4. 


Sidney Robertson Cowell was quoted by Wiley Hitchcock 

on this subject in a letter to Mr. Hitchcock: 

Henry certainly liked to see what could be done 
with some of his musical ideas by applying the 
severest logical consistency to them. But he 
certainly didn't believe that life was, or music 
should be, as limited by the conscious operation 
of the mind as that. He thought that intellect 
could project infinite possibilities, but he 
distinguished between the results of cerebration 
alone and what happened when, what he called his 
"creativity" came into play. 

The sources above refer specifically to Cowell 's work 
as a composer, but they also represent a philosophy which 
is basic to his work as a pedagogue as well. What Saylor 
saw as the unifying principle in his composition may be 
also observed in his teaching. Cowell had an eclectic 
style that allowed materials of a widely divergent nature 
to be used to illustrate his objectives. His course 
content was influenced by the people who were available to 
illustrate their music. The content also reflected his 
personal concerns and interests much more than would have 
been true had he spent his entire career in a more formal 
school of music. 

At the New School Cowell established a tradition of 
examining the non-traditional. His courses in contemporary 
music and musicology used materials which were so recent or 
so little known, there were no models to follow; no texts 

113 Hitchcock, "Henry Cowell's Ostinato Pianissimo," 
p. 27. 


to use as a guide. His materials varied from term to term 

depending on who was available to discuss their music with 

the students. 

There was less autocratic control of the classroom 

experience than in other teacher's classes, as evidenced by 

the number of guests Cowell invited to share their musical 

knowledge and experiences. Some of these guest lecturers 

would have expressed opinions contrary to those of Cowell 

or of other guests. This exchange of ideas might have been 

confusing to students at times, but it would have permitted 

them to be a part of the continuing evolution of music: 

Cowell was a breath of fresh air as a teacher for 
he was completely devoid of any trace of 
academicism — in fact, he was apt to be quite lax 
in this respect. Classes took on an informal air 
as he would relate anecdotes from his past 
experiences or look at your scores cross-legged, 
away from the piano. He claimed that the piano 
just cluttered up his room and that he had long 
trained himself to hear and write without it. 

Before class if you happened to arrive early, 
you might find him asleep on the floor on an 
Indian mat, as he always took an afternoon 
siesta. Like Bernard Rogers he was a, great 
punster and was full of Irish humor. 

Takefusa Sasamori, a former student, recalls an 

incident at Columbia University after class when several 

students and professors were waiting for an elevator: 

When the door opened, he got on after the 
students. I told him that in Japan, we have a 
saying that (the student) "should walk three 
steps behind the teacher and must not step on his 
shadow." Then he explained "At the 

114 Frederich Koch, Reflections on Composing, p. 64. 


university, students are the master (s) and 
teachers . . . (must be those) who serve them." 
... he made it as his motto; the thing which 
students want most, that is what^the teachers 
must support and make it grow. 

When Mr. and Mrs. Cowell discovered the extent of 
the financial difficulties of Mr. Sasamori they established 
a scholarship for him by requesting their friends to forgo 
one glass of dinner wine and donate that amount to the 
scholarship every month. Mr. Sasamori heard that some of 
them joked "Won't he get drunk drinking such a lot of 
wine?" 116 

The picture of Cowell as a teacher emerges as one with 
a strong sense of commitment to his own ideals (building an 
audience for unfamiliar music, and particularly 
contemporary American music) and discovery learning for his 
students. His classes were informal, yet each class was 
clearly a step toward the objectives set up for the 
education of his students. It seems clear that Cowell did 
not expect to effect a complete indoctrination to ethno- 
musicology or to contemporary music in one class, but 
rather changed his offerings in order to foster continual 
growth in potential audiences for the music in which he 
believed so passionately. 

115 Takefusa Sasamori, in letter to Edward Carwithen, 
April 20, 1990. 

116 Ibid. 


Cowell explored the relationship between old rules of 
harmony and counterpoint and the new musical materials in 
his own compositions as well as in the classroom. It was 
as a composer that he was primarily known in the middle of 
the century, and his hymns and fuguing tunes seem to 
exemplify the fusion of folk and experimental, traditional 
and modern, that he stressed in his pedagogical efforts. 

The early American fuguing tune usually was a two-part 
form. The first part was a homophonic section and the 
second an imitative part, or "fuge", in which each voice 
would enter with the same melody but at different times. 

Irving Lowens, writing in the American Journal of 

Music, discussed the American fuguing tune in comparison 

with the classical fugue form: 

The fuguing tune bears no family resemblance to 
the classical fugue of Bach, neither is it a 
rudimentary form of the classical form of the 
classical fugue, nor could its composers possibly 
have intended it to be such. The Bach fugue is 
without doubt one of the peaks of musical 
achievement, but the American fuguing tune may 
well be considered at least a pleasant — and yet 
unexplored — hillock. 

1 Irving Lowens, "The Origins of the American Fuguing 
Tune," Journal of American Music, 6 (1953) : 43. 



S. R. Cowell, a collector and student of folk song 

traditions long before marrying Henry Cowell, explains the 

form as found in William Walker's Southern Harmony in this 


This music — melody in the middle voice, with a 
descant above and a bass melody below, 
characterized the music of the very early 
Reformation, and travelled to the U.S. via 
Lancashire and Kent. Walker's book is full of 
fine ballad melodies, often Celtic, adapted to 
rhymed versions of the Psalms. Some of the 
longer ones have a middle section of four, or 
eight, measures of very simple imitation, which 
is what was thought of as a "fuguing tune." 

The name most often associated with early American 
fuguing tunes is William Billings; however, many composers 
of the period wrote in this style, and Billing's fuguing 
tunes comprised only a small portion of his music. 
Billing's fuguing tunes were often in four parts; whereas, 
as seen in Mrs. Cowell's account above, Walker's fuguing 
tunes were more likely to be in three parts. Cowell's 
hymns and fuguing tunes were typically in three melodic 
lines, giving credence to the influence of Walker rather 
than that of Billings. 

Mrs. Cowell is quite emphatic on the point of Walker's 

influence : 

Mr. Cowell had never heard of Billings until much 
later, and as Billings wrote anthems in a more 
elaborate style, which might or might not include 
some imitation, his pieces did not interest Mr. 

2 Sidney Cowell, letter to present writer, June 19, 1990, 


Cowell and did not influence him at all. 
There are some pieces by Northern composers 
included at the back of Walker's 1835 edition of 
his Southern Harmony , but the five or six of us 
who read through a dozen or so of the modal 
simple hymns together paid no attention to the 
Northerners. The tradition that travelled across 
the South came direct from different parts of 
Britain — other, that is, than that brought by the 
settlers in New England; it was quite different, 
and on the whole much simpler, and depended far 
more on old ballad tunes as a source. The 
singing school masters in the North were usually 
real composers; those in the South were adaptors 
of the familiar. There-was some exchange but not 
much mutual enthusiasm. 

Cowell first encountered the hymnody of the shaped- 
note tradition when visiting his mother's relatives in 
Kansas and Iowa as a boy. In the early 1940s his interest 
in this music was renewed by his wife, Sidney: 

When I showed him my copy of the William Walker 
reprint, he recognized a familiar style at once, 
and was attracted by the modal tunes, many of 
them of Celtic character. I do not believe he 
paid any attention to Billings and his anthems. 
When he decided to see what he could do with this 
material, using it, he said, in the way European 
composers drew on the folk melody wealth of the 
chorales to create a sophisticated concert music, 
he adopted the two-part form, a slow movement 
followed by a fast one, because it was such a 
universally known form. He did not invent it. 
The series is dedicated to me (with some 
individual dedications to performers) only 
because I showed him the Walker book and went 
around humming the melodies. 

Cowell was not as particular about disregarding 

Billings as an influence. In the score to his Hymn and 

Fuguing Tune for Symphonic Band, he wrote: 

3 Ibid. 

4 Ibid. 


[This work] is written in a manner which is 
frankly influenced by the early American style of 
Billings and of Walker. However, the early style 
is not exactly imitated, nor are any of the tunes 
and melodies taken from these early masters. 
Rather, I asked myself the question, What would 
have happened in America if this fine, serious 
early style had developed? [This work] which 
uses old modes [and] open chords. . . is a modern 
version of this old style. 

The hymns and fuguing tunes analyzed in this chapter 

are a sampling of those written by Cowell; they were chosen 

to demonstrate his ability to utilize both old and new 

compositional techniques. 

Hymn and Fuguing Tune No. 7 
For Viola and Piano 

There is little background for this work. 
Lichtenwanger listed it as #710 in the chronological order, 
and indicated that S. R. Cowell wrote the following to Mrs. 
Charles Ives in reference to the work: "The Hymn and 
Fuguing Tune for viola and piano is the latest." 6 We know 
that Cowell dedicated the hymn and fuguing tune series to 
his wife, and often presented them to her on her birthday, 
June 2nd. There is no such presentation listed for 1947, 
the year of completion for #7, but, as the completion date 
is July 26, this may have been a belated birthday present. 

5 Lichtenwanger, The Music of Henry Cow ell, p. 199. 

6 Ibid., p. 221. 


Lichtenwanger also informs us that the first 

performance was given by Milton Preves and Henry Cowell on 

December 10, 1947 at Kimball Hall, in Chicago. Mr. Preves 

recalls that the program was a trio program for clarinet, 

viola and piano, but that there were no reviews of the 



In a review published in Music Library Association 

Notes, Abraham Loft commented: 

The Cowell cornucopia appears to be bottomless. 
In a profusion of other works comes this engaging 
composition for viola. The Hymn, a quietly 
insistent larghetto movement, has a tantalizing 
suggestion of "blues" to this reviewer. The 
Fuguing Tune, con moto, is a good, cleanly 
written chase, spelled by judicious ease up 
passages and closing with exciting sweeps for 
both instruments. Difficult. 


Weisgall noted that the two principal currents of 

Cowell's music were "consistent use of chromatic dissonant 

material, usually expressed polyphonically ," and "a broad 

extension of modal principles, frequently utilizing 

'exotic' scales. . ." In Hymn No. 1_ Cowell used modal 

principles combined with the polyphony mentioned by Mr. 

Weisgall, but both the Hymn and the Fuguing Tune are 

7 Ibid. 

8 Milton Preves, in letter to present writer, March 10, 

9 Abraham Loft, "Chamber Music of Henry Cowell: Hymn and 
Fuguing Tune #7 for Viola and Piano. . ." Music Library 
Association Notes, 11/2 (March 1954) : 274. 

10 Weisgall, "The Music of Henry Cowell," p. 490. 


practically devoid of chromaticism. All accidentals can be 
attributed to differing modal forms of the D tonality, and 
modal forms of its closely related keys. 

The key signature would indicate C Major or A Minor, 
but the tonality is dominated by D, which indicates the D 
Dorian mode. The final cadence has a pedal tone on the 

dominant which resolves ultimately to octave D, further 

confirming a tonality of D. With D established as the 

tonic, there is a brief use of the Phrygian mode in 

measures 20-23. 

Example 1. Cowell, Hymn No. 7, meas. 22-23. 


> > 

*~ 17) * ' W ^W 

§Es J a g 







^■'.'i m 

The D becomes a dominant of G, moving to G Mixolydian 
mode in measure 28. The tonality of G is explored in Minor 
(over a dominant pedal tone, measures 26-29, example 2), 
Mixolydian (measures 29-31 example 3) , and Major (measures 
62-63, example 4). The Dominant tone A is represented by 


pedal tones leading to the final cadence, as mentioned 
above (measures 72-76) , and pedal tones in measures 43-57 
which resolve to a Fortissimo D in octaves in measure 58. 
Example 2, Cowell, Hymn No. 7 , Meas. 26-29. 


i p i 1 -iL.^.^. 

*f 7U-V n 






Example 3, Cowell, Hymn No. 7, Meas. 29-31. 

.{ c | j, i j j j 1 1 1 jjj jj 




-* — 






Example 4, Cowell, Hymn No . 1_, meas. 62-63. 

Tjj I T 



' u ut 





The over-all harmonic structure can be plotted with a 
quite conventional progression consisting of: tonic (D) , 
sub-dominant (G) , Dominant (A), and Tonic (D) ; however, the 
internal chordal movement does not follow conventional 
movement by fifths. Measure 68 and 69, for example, have 
an inferred triadic chord movement of: A Minor, G Minor, C 
Minor, B Minor, C Major, E Minor, and A Minor (example 5). 

Example 5. Cowell, Hymn No . 7, meas. 68-69. 

© — " "— 

a . * ? a 






a a j . m f 



It is more satisfying analytically to view the 
horizontal flow of tones than the vertical alignment. This 
follows the practice of Medieval polyphony, and with the 


generous use of open and parallel fifths (often over a long 
"tenor" pedal) , conveys an impression of a motet based on 
Gregorian chant but updated to the twentieth century. 
There are a few incidental tone clusters (unprepared and 
unresolved dissonances) which may be analyzed harmonically, 
but as the melodic lines are more important than the 
vertical harmony, the tone cluster is heard only as a brief 
clash in the unfolding linear progression. 

Melodically, the Hymn is based on one theme expressed 
in two variations, A, and A„ . The final three tones of A- 
are used as a motive which appears at the beginning of each 
of the sections. 

Example 6. Cowell, Hymn No. 7, meas 1-3. 




-• — *"- 

Example 7. Cowell, Hymn No. 7, meas. 4-5 

i nS i un m 


Cowell typically uses a three part (A-B-A) form for 
the hymn as well as for the fuguing tune in each set. Very 
often this is done by employing a Da Capo. The three part 
nature of this hymn is not as obvious since there is no Da 
Capo. Also there is no readily identifiable, melodically 


contrasting middle part. There is, however, a change in 
texture. The Hymn is for the most part in three-voiced 
texture, but in measure 21 it begins to thicken to five 
voices, returning again to three voices in measure 43. 

Hymn No. 7 is unusual in that it is more polyphonic in 
texture than a chorale in chordal or familiar style. The 
imitative structure causes it to be more like a fuguing 
tune than other hymns in the series. 

Fuguing Tune 

The form of Fuguing tune No. 7 is a five-part rondo. 
There is a coda to complete the movement. This 
construction is a departure from the usual three-part form 
which Cowell favored for these works. In the return of the 
A section in measures 32-42 the original viola part now 
appears in the right hand of the piano, the piano part 
being taken by the viola. The left hand is duplicated as 
originally stated. The ultimate exposition is an exact 
restatement of the first and is followed by the "exciting 
sweeps for both instruments" mentioned above by Mr. Lofts. 

Cowell uses exact repetition again in measures 43-49, 
putting the four measure phrase of the top three voices 
into the piano part, and having the viola pick up the 
supertonic pedal tone (sounded by the piano in the first 
statement) for the restatement. 


The coda consists of a series of imitative runs 
alternating between the viola and the piano right hand over 
a dominant pedal tone. Each run is answered by a variant 
of the first except for the last two sets which are exact 
duplicates of each other. Each set of runs ends on a 

successively higher tone, beginning with A , then B-flat , 

3 3 3 
B , C , C-sharp and resolving to a unison four octave D. 

Example 8. Cowell, Fuguing Tune No . 7, meas. 74-77. 



A pedal tone on D maintains the sense of tonality to 
the end of the movement while the runs continue in the 
viola and piano. Measure 77 has a C-sharp leading tone, 
but all of the other concluding measures are in the 
tonality of D Dorian with C naturals and B naturals. The 
final chord has no third. This leaves the listener with a 
sense of tonality, but with an ambiguous feeling of 

Harmonically the movement, like the Hymn, is organized 
into sections which correspond to the tonal relationships 
of tonic, supertonic and dominant. The section in 
supertonic can be analyzed as the dominant of the dominant 
leading to the tonic progression. The vertical alignment 
of simultaneous sounds does not lend itself to traditional 
analysis, but there is a feeling of harmonic progression in 
the broader sense. Even in a section of arpeggiated or 
broken chords in the piano part (ie measures 18-22, example 
9) , the chord analysis does not indicate a tonal pattern, 
but rather chords built on alternating modal patterns above 
a pedal on D. 

This same broken chord figure (as well as the six 
measure passage which follows it) is repeated in measures 
51-55 (55-61) . In the repetition, however, the passage is 
at the interval of the fifth or dominant of D. There are a 


large number of open fifths (chords with a root and fifth 

but no third) . 

Example 9. Cowell, Fuguing Tune No. 7, meas 18-22. 

Although the key signature indicates either C Major or 
A Minor, the first statement begins and ends on E, and the 
two answers in this essentially three voice fugue both 
begin on D and end on E. The insertion of a D Major chord 
in measure seven temporarily establishes the D tonality as 


Major, which then modulates into Minor in measure eleven. 
The alternation of mode is not uncommon in the Cowell hymns 
and fuguing tunes. In this movement can be found patterns 
of Minor, Major, Dorian and Phrygian. 

The primary theme is motivic both in rhythm and in 
melody, and motivic fragments can be recognized throughout 
the movement. This fugue, however, differs from the 
classical fugue format in the following manner: a 
traditional fugue subject modulates to the dominant at 
which time the second statement (the tonal answer) enters 
in the key of the dominant and through intervalic 
alteration effects a modulation back into the original key. 
Cowell 's answer begins at an interval of one measure and 
one note higher than the original statement. The third 
statement of the theme which in a traditional fugue would 
recall the first, in this fugue has its initial tone on the 
same pitch as the second statement. While the rhythms in 
the first three statements of the themes are alike, the 
pattern of tones in the answers are altered. Both patterns 
are used motivically during the fugue. 

This work is remarkably inventive and experimental. 
The alteration of mode is the primary device for adding 
variety and interest to the themes, and to ears not attuned 
to modal patterns the effect is most unusual. He manages 
to utilize the full range of both instruments, and to 


integrate the voices of each instrument into a cohesive 

There are three melodic lines, for the most part, in 
both movements. The Hymn adds two more voices in the 
middle section, and the Fuguing Tune adds a fourth voice 
for six measures, but three voices is the predominant 
texture. This pattern prevails in many in the series of 
hymns and fuguing tunes ( Hymn and Fuguing Tune No. 13 for 
Trombone and Piano and Hymn and Fuguing Tune No. 12 for 
three Horns) 

The sound, owing to the frequent use of open fifths 
and modal ambiguity, is reminiscent of the archaic, but at 
the same time is modern in style. The result is an effect 
that is innovative while appearing naively simple. 

Hymn and Fuguing Tune No. 9 
For Cello and Piano 

Lichtenwanger listed Hymn and Fuguing Tune No. 9 as 
#758 in his catalogue. In his notes he indicated that it 
was "written 'for Annaliese Camp Bacon' (Mrs. Ernst 
Bacon)", although this dedication does not appear on the 
printed version published by Associated Music Publishers. 
The first performance was "On 16 Nov 1953, by Sidney 
Edwards (cello) and David Tudor (piano) , at the New School 

11 Lichtenwanger, The Music of Henry Cowell , p. 283. 


for Social Research in New York, as part of a Cowell 25th 

Anniversary Retrospective celebrating HC's quarter-century 

of association with the New School." 

There were several reviews of the first performance, 

possibly a consequence of the occasion. Jack Beeson, of 

The New York Times wrote that it was an ". . . agreeable 

and contrapuntally fluent piece, even if reminiscent of 

much that had been heard earlier." Francis D. Perkins 

wrote in the New York Herald Tribune that Hymn and Fuguing 

Tune No. 9^ "offered a broad melody followed by a fugue 

which combined liveliness with deftness of construction... 

The whole illustrated the activity of a distinctly 

individual, significant composer who has never marked time 

1 4 
nor let his style become static." The first complained 

about Cowell's lack of originality, the second praised him 

for originality. 


The movement in is A-B-A or "Arch" form, with two 
parts (a,b) in the A section, a contrasting B section (c,c) 

12. Ibid. 

13. Jack Beeson, "New School Pays Honor to Cowell," New 
York Times , November 17, 1953, p. 36, col. 8. 

14. Francis D. Perkins, "Concert at the New School is 
Tribute to Henry Cowell, New York Herald Tribune , November 
17, 1953, p. 25, col. 7. 


and a repetition of A for the concluding part of the 

The eye is immediately drawn to the uncharacteristic A 
major key signature. Cowell seldom used any sharps or 
flats in the key signatures of his hymns and fuguing tunes. 
To begin in a major scale rather than a modal one (much 

less one in three sharps) is unusual for these works. The 

cello melody begins immediately with no introduction. 

There is little hint of modality in either the melody or 

the harmony, and yet there is a sense of primitive hymnody 

in the effect. The meter is in three half notes to the 

measure, and the melody is made up of three phrases 

(instead of the usual four), each of which is three 

measures in length. In a typical chorale-type hymn there 

would be four phrases, and the third phrase would be in 

harmonic and rhythmic contrast to the other three. Cowell 

omits the contrasting third phrase here. 

Rhythmically each phrase is derivative from the first. 
The ending note for each phrase is different, but each 
final note is one of the notes in the A major triad, 
reinforcing the A major tonality. 

Example 10. Cowell, Hymn No . J3, meas. 1-3. . 

m Phuj r 1 1 m i m 



Example 11. Cowell, Hymn No. 9, meas. 3-6. 

i , ,'in i jjtj 1 m \ ^=^r 

Example 12. Cowell, Hymn No . J), meas. 6-9, 

U. jT 




The melody is hymn-like in that the three phrases are 
similar in construction, but vary from hymn style in the 
fact that the meter, length and number of repetitions are 
in threes instead of fours. 

The "b" section begins after a two-measure interlude 
with a derivative melody played by the cello, this time in 
D Lydian. It also consists of three phrases each 

comprising three measures. The final notes (referred to as 

1 5 
"finals" in modal use) of each phrase do not outline a 

chord in this section, as was true in the first. Instead 

the finals end on B, C-sharp, and A, respectively. The 

finals in the "a" portion tend to reinforce the tonality of 

A major, but the finals in the "b" portion do not reinforce 

D lydian. Instead they contribute a feeling of confusion 

as to tonality and modality, until the ultimate final 

effects a modulation back to A major. 

The accompaniment of the "a" portion is in four-part 

harmony, while the "b" thins to two accompanying voices. 


These two voice lines, along with the cello, make up the 

expected three-voice texture. 

Example 13. Cowell, Hymn No. 9, meas. 1-3. 

tsm u> r b 






r i 1 (■ ' 

j j j 








Example 14. Cowell, Hymn No. 9, meas. 11-14. 







f i 1 


i j i 

After a two-measure interlude the contrasting B 
section (c,c) , based on a two-octave arpeggio, is 
introduced. The B section follows the three-measure, 
three-phrase pattern already established. This third part 
of the Hymn is repeated note for note, although the notes 
of the piano part are transposed down an octave. The 


accompaniment in this section is in the four-part chordal 
texture used for the beginning of the movement. 

The movement ends with a repetition of the A section 
(a,b) followed by a three-measure coda which has a very 
traditional Ig/ 4 / V, I cadence. The form is revealed as a 
three-part form: A (a,b), B (c,c), A (a,b) . This type of 
arch form is a favorite for the hymns and fuguing tunes, 
and the exact repetition of the first third of the movement 
is a common device for Cowell. The addition of a coda is 
less common, but not unusual. 

Fuguing Tune 

The common practice in writing fugues is to establish 
an easily recognizable theme that is repeated in imitation 
in contrasting voices and keys. Cowell's fuguing tunes 
often stretched this concept. His subject in this instance 
is first sounded by the cello in D dorian then answered by 
the piano in quite proper fashion in A minor. The answer, 
however, is not a restatement of the original theme in 
another key, it is a variation of the theme. The third 
statement reverts to D dorian, but it is an inversion of 
the original theme (in the manner of a tone-row inversion). 
Each interval of the original melody is now inverted. 
Cowell introduced accidentals into the melody which are 


foreign to D dorian, but which return the tonality to A 


Example 15. Cowell, Fuguing Tune No. 9, meas. 1-4. 

i 1 1 m j i r 




Example 16. Cowell, Fuguing Tune No . 9, meas. 6-9. 

IH.l l flr j r I' l Li ij Hiijf 1 

Example 17. Cowell, Fuguing Tune No. 9, meas. 12-15. 

f i n j, i n\.\u,m 


The subject is not heard from again until a 
recapitulation in measure 74 when the theme returns played 
by the solo cello with a bass accompaniment. Instead of 
the second voice entering with an tonal answer, the cello 
itself plays the second statement of the theme while the 
piano, low voice, plays the counterpoint which was 
originally in the cello. The entrance of the third 
statement is again in inversion as is it was in the 
exposition, but the solo cello and the piano's upper voice 
alternate the melodic material between the two parts. 

The movement ends with the theme being stated in D 
major by the cello with almost static chordal accompaniment 
by the piano. This D major statement is repeated with a 
two-measure coda. 


In between the opening section and the recapitulation, 

Cowell has placed a section in a rondo-like pattern. The 

themes are more a derivation or variation than theme 

restatements, but are identifiable non-the-less. 

Table 1. Key relationship in Cowell Fuguing Tune No. 9 

tneas. theme Key 

1 AD dorian 

7 Al A minor variation of A 

13 A3 D dorian inversion of A 

19 Bl G minor 

30 CI transition arpeggio ascending eighths 

36 B2 C minor 

44 C2 transition arpeggio descending sixteenths 

48 D E-flat minor 

53 C2 transition arpeggio descending sixteenths 

57 Bl A minor 

68 CI transition arpeggio ascending eighths 

74 A D dorian 

80 Al A minor variation of Al 

86 A3 D dorian inversion of A 

93 A4 D major 

99 A4 D major repetition of previous measures 

105 Coda D major 

The texture is again three voices throughout the 
movement (with the exception of some octave doubling in the 
bass voice) until the last section in D major when the 
piano has block chords. 

The analysis reveals again that Cowell used 
conventional forms in his own way to create new variations 
of those forms. This movement is not quite a fugue, nor is 
it an arch form, nor quite a rondo. Yet elements of all of 
these are present in sufficient amounts to provide a basis 
for analysis and comparison. 


Hymn and Fuguing Tune No. 12 
For Three Horns 

Lichtenwanger listed this work as # 850, and indicated 
that the completion date was January 1958. There is a 
caption on the manuscript that the piece was written for 
Sinclair Lott. "Mr. Lott f a horn player in the Los Angeles 
area, reports that he and colleagues played this work 
several times in the early 1960s but that he has no record 
of the first performance". 

In typical writing for the horn ensemble (i.e. the 
scherzo of Beethoven's Symphony No. 3 "Eroica" ) the 
individual part lines are differentiated by tessitura: 
high, middle, and low. In this piece the horns play in the 
same register, each voice taking its turn at the tones in 
both the upper and lower levels of the pitch spectrum. 
This melodic interweaving coupled with the rich sonority of 
the horn quality frustrates the listener who would prefer 
to follow individual melodic lines. In the fugue, 
especially, the distinctive theme statements are clear, but 
the subsequent polyphonic lines have a tendency to be 
absorbed into the harmonic background. 

16 Lichtenwanger, The Music of Henry Cowell, p. 276. 



The tonal center for the Hymn is immediately 
established by a pedal-tone sounded on F. This pedal-tone 
is continued in each of the voices in turn for eighteen 
measures at which time a B-flat pedal takes over for twelve 
measures. Before a Dal Segno returns to the beginning a 
pedal on G followed by a pedal on C leads back to the F 
which began the piece, and which continues through the 
coda. These tonal centers indicate a harmonic progression 
of I, IV, ii, V, I. 

The end of the may might be analyzed as being in the 
Phrygian mode with a sharped third scale degree. This 
alteration introduces an augmented second between the 
second and third scale degree which lends an exotic sound 
to the melodic material. The middle section (played over 
the B-flat pedal) is in B-flat Minor, but makes frequent 
use of a raised third, fifth and seventh scale step. While 
there are many instances of chromatic alterations, Cowell 
is generally consistent in maintaining the integrity of the 
scalar materials of this movement. 

The Hymn is polyphonic, rather than homophonic in 
construction. Harmonies do not change in chordal fashion. 
The melodic lines rise to a peak (usually a dissonant one) 
and fall back only to be superceded by another rising line. 
The highest pitch is in the forty-sixth measure on A. The 


second highest pitch is A-flat in the nineteenth measure, 

which is repeated during the playing of the Dal Segno. 

After this high point the movement recedes to the tonality 

of F and ends on a unison F for all three voices. 

An effective device found throughout the piece is a 2- 

3 suspension, used most often as one of the voices reach 

the highest tone in its melodic line. Open fifths and 

octaves balance the dissonance of the tone clusters. The 

effect of the pedal tones and open perfect intervals create 

the effect of a medieval clausulae with a cantus firmus 

tenor in long tones with a two voice counterpoint above. 

Indeed the similarities between Hymn No. 12 and 

descriptions of clausulae by Perotin of the Notre Dame 

School in the 1190's are striking: 

Perotin's contributions to stylistic development 
may be summarized as follows: (10) rhythmic 
organization of all voices; (2) the use of more 
than one mode in the same voice part; (3) the 
increase in the number of voices from two to 
three (or four); (4) the use of Stimmtausch and 
the rudiments of cannonic writing. It is not too 
much to say that the rhythmic independence of the 
voices in Perotin's music marks the beginning 
of real polyphony. 17 

Stimmtausch, according to Ulrich and Pisk, 

"consists of placing in one voice what another voice 

1 8 
has had previously, and vice versa." In all points of 

17 Homer Ulrich and Paul Pisk. A History of Music and 
Musical Style (New York: Harcourt Brace Jovanovich, Inc., 
1963) , p. 69. 

18 Ibid. , p. 68. 


the above description Cowell's Hymn No. 12 is a Twentieth 
Century version of an Eleventh Century form. Especially 
significant for the purposes of present discussion is the 
use of more than one mode in the same voice part, as Cowell 
does so often in these works. 

Fuguing Tun e 

The fugue theme outlines a C Major triad, 1-3-5-8 with 
the exception that a chromatically embellished upper 
neighboring tone precedes the octave. 

Example 18. Cowell, Fuguing Tune No. 12, meas. 1-3. 






P m u i g n t "t ; 


The subject quickly modulates to the subdominant F 
Major for the entrance of the second voice, which continues 
the subdominant modulation to B-flat Major. This tonal 
center modulates to its subdominant E-flat Major for the 
fourth statement of the subject. This statement also 
modulates to its subdominant, A-flat, but the subject is 
not introduced in this key. 

Many authors have mentioned Cowell's puckish sense of 
humor (Koch, Helms, Saylor) and one wonders if he might 
have been subtly poking fun at writers of fugues by 
composing a modulating theme for which the "real answer" 
continues to modulate ad infinitum. 


The next several theme statements are in variation: 
5-1-3-4, 1-3-5-8, 1-3-5-6, and 1-3-5-7. 

Example 19. Cowell, Fuguing Tune No. 12, me as. 19 


I * * * > 

<¥>A = " U i Li i*( 




> > 

Example 2 0.; Cowell, Fuguing Tune No. 12, me as. 22, 

Example 21. Cowell, Fuguing Tune No. 12, me as. 25 

tmi im=r 

Example 22. Cowell, Fuguing Tune No. 12, me as. 30 


j ; I ii u utiPi T"r?t 


Cowell does not maintain any single tonal center for 
an extended length of time. Each theme statement is a 
variation of the tonal center, mode or structure. C Minor 
and stretto devices are also explored. Each device is 
easily identifiable, and the effect is one of constant 
variation of the subject. 


The movement comes to a conclusion with pedal tones 
outlining the super-tonic, the dominant and the tonic 
harmonic progression, and the last chord (or final) is an 
open fifth and octave on C. 

The work is interesting in several regards. The use 
of the distinctive sonority of the horn makes the 
interweaving melodic lines in the same register curiously 
confusing. The open intervals and unisons provide a sense 
of ambiguity to the modality, and the lines which rise to a 
dissonance only to fall away in resolution provide a 
feeling of tension and release which is quite satisfactory. 
It is lamentable that Cowell did not write more often for 
the horn ensemble. 

Hymn and Fuguing Tune No . 13 
For Trombone and Piano 

Number 13 in the series is listed as #875 in the 
Lichtenwanger catalog. The first performance was in 
the Young Men's-Young Women's Hebrew Association, in New 
York on February 5, 1961. The score bears the dedication 
"For Davis Shuman," and Davis Shuman was the soloist for 
the premier performance. Lichtenwanger indicated that the 

pencil draft gives "Friday the 13th of May, '60" as the 

completion date. A review of this piece on record is 

19 Lichtenwanger, The Music of Henry Cowell, p. 285. 


given in the July 1984 issue of the American Record Guide 

by David W. Moore: 

Henry Cowell (1897-1965) wrote his Hymn and 
Fuguing Tune No. 13 for Davis Shuman, the man 
with the trombone that curved to the right. 
Shuman liked gutsy trombone music and he got it 
in the fast section of this work, which recalls 
Cowell's earlier, more iconoclastic wild and 
dissonant style. 20 

Although scale passages and harmonic structure are 
less than common, "iconoclastic, wild and dissonant" may be 
overstating the case. The apparent disharmony is a result 
of the unusual modal materials employed. Cowell made 
extensive use of modes in all of his hymns and fuguing 
tunes and, in this particular one, he has even altered the 
modes to form new combinations of scale material. The Hymn 
is in the Mixolydian mode, while the Fuguing Tune makes use 
of Lydian, Dorian, Phrygian, Minor with a raised third, 
Major and several instances of altering a modal pattern 
with flatted sevenths and sharped fifths. 

The overall result is certainly fresh to ears which 
rarely hear music in the modes, and which never hear music 
of modes which have been altered. It should be remembered 
that Cowell was introduced to modes at an early age by a 
church musician in San Francisco and his fascination with 
modes is not a passing fad, but a life-long interest in 
uncommon musical materials. 

20 David W. Moore, "Record Reviews," American Record 
Guide, 47 (July 1984): 61. 


Hugo Weisgall traces two principal currents in the 
music of Henry Cowell: "One of these is a consistent use of 
chromatic dissonant material, usually expressed 
polyphonically; the other is a broad extension of modal 

principles, frequently utilizing "exotic" scales, rhythmic 

forms, and instruments". 

Weisgall's evaluation is certainly demonstrated in 

both the Hymn and the Fuguing Tune sections of No. 13 . 

There is a great deal of chromatic dissonance, and the 

fugue in particular uses dissonances in polyphonic context. 

In the Fugue are found many forms of modes and "exotic" 



Hymn No. 13 is in the Mixolydian mode. There are 
several modulations of the mode from A Mixolydian to D 
Mixolydian and back again. The Hymn modulates ultimately 
from D Mixolydian to D major for the final cadence. There 
is a distinct cadence formula which establishes the mode 
and its final. This cadence formula recalls the 
embellished phrase endings often added to church hymns. 

21 Weisgall, "The Music of Henry Cowell," p. 490. 


Example 23. Cowell, Hymn No . 13 , meas. 11-12, 







"13 ** - 


Example 24. Cowell, Hymn No. 13, meas. 35-36, 

-ffc | f 



feU l ^ 






Example 25. Cowell, Hymn No. 13, meas. 76-77, 

u _ r — ^ 


g ig 1 „ a 






- o = 


The effect of the Mixolydian mode, to ears accustomed 
to common practice, is one of an incomplete or half 
cadence. This is due to the lowered seventh scale step 
which causes the final to sound like the dominant of the 
major scale five tones away. Cowell encourages this 
ambiguity by use of accented non-chord tones on the A 
Mixolydian "tonic" chord, and by using a very proper 

dominant seventh chord for the A Mixolydian resolution that 

7 7 
just happens to sound like a II -V in the key of D Major. 

Becoming accustomed to the "dominant" sounding final takes 

some little time. This is probably the reason Cowell 

modulates to the more easily accepted major for the 

ultimate cadence of the Hymn. 

The pattern of chord usage is interesting. In the 

Mixolydian sections, I chords and V chords predominate with 

VII chords and ii chords being used frequently. The vi (F- 

sharp diminished chord) is used only once. When the Hymn 

modulates from D Mixolydian to D Major, the vii chord is 

used four times in fifteen measures, the vii chord not at 

all, and the ii chord used in quite proper tonal fashion as 

7 7 
a dominant of dominant to tonic cadence formula (ii -V -I). 

The phrases are symmetrical in four-measure patterns. 

The melody is reminiscent of those found in hymn books of 

the 1800's, simple, essentially diatonic and limited in 


range. The harmony in the piano accompaniment is in block 
chordal structure (homophonic or "familiar style") for the 
most part. 

An interesting feature of this accompanying chordal 
structure Is that Cowell does not use established voice 
leading procedures, j such as an independent bass line and 
avoiding parallel fifths and octaves. He has instead 
written triads doubled at the octave which progress by step 
(as dictated by the melody) rather than by common practice 
which is based on the progression of fifths. This makes 
chord selection follow a somewhat haphazard process. 

In measure 17 and 18, the melody in the accompaniment 
consists of the tones C, D, E, C D E. The chordal support 
consists of triads on A, B, C, A, B and A, (I fi / 4 f H-j' 
iii g/4 , Ig/ 4 / ii*' *) creating the effect of chordal 
planing with the overlying melody. 

Example 26. Cowell, Hymn No. 13, meas. 17-18. 


Fuguing Tune 

The most striking feature of the Fuguing Tune is the 
use of modes. Cowell alters the mode freely rather than 
using the natural form of the mode. The first theme 
statement uses the Lydian mode on G with a flatted seventh. 
The second statement uses the Lydian mode on G with a 
sharped fifth. It may be argued that an alteration of the 
mode (Lydian, Phrygian or otherwise) changes the character 
of the mode to the extent that it can no longer be 
identified with the original modal pattern. There are two 
counter-arguments. The first is that the patterns must be 
identified in some manner in order to be discussed, and 
Lydian with a flatted seventh, or with a sharped fifth 
identifies not only the scale pattern but also the expected 
modal characteristics and the relationships of the tones to 
the final. The second counter-argument is that the minor 
scale (Aeolian mode) is altered regularly with no loss of 
identification (natural minor, harmonic minor, melodic 
minor and minor with "Tierce de Picardie"). There is 
abundant precedence for mode alteration. 

In identifying Cowell's use of modes, one is faced 
with a further dilemma. He has melodic material which 
descends through a seven note scale and ends on a sharped 


scale degree. Is the natural scale degree at the beginning 
of the passage or the sharped first scale degree at the end 
of the passage the non-chord tone? In each case the ear 
must be the final arbiter. 

Example 27. Cowell, Fugue No. 13, meas. 1-3. 



Jttjj ) r*rfPr.'/ 

r y ** 

if A1A«.CPlTO 

There are two instances of a scale of Cowell *s 
devising which has the Phrygian flavor of the flatted 
second scale degree, as well as a raised seventh leading 
tone. All other tones are a whole step apart; i.e., a 
whole-tone scale with a leading tone seventh and flatted 

Example 28. Cowell, Fugue No . 13 , meas. 6-7. 


. 44*M ,-- 


Forty-three modal scale passages can be identified in 
this fugue including Lydian, Phrygian, Minor (natural, 
melodic and natural with a Tierce de Picardie) , Major, and 
Major with a flatted seventh, Phrygian with sharped 6th, 
Dorian, and Locrian. 

A further ambiguity involves the interval of a fourth 
to begin the theme. In common practice the upper tone of 


the fourth would establish the key. In this fugue that 
does not seem to be the case. 

The Fugue is in three voices, but does not follow the 
classical fugue form of subject in tonic, answer in 
dominant. ' The first statement of this them is G C G A in 
the "key" of G Lydian, which is answered by G C G G-sharp, 
also in the key of G Lydian. The third voice then enters 
on the dominant with D G D E-flat in the key of D Lydian. 
The theme statements use one or the other of these patterns 
throughout the movement. 

Example 29. Cowell, Fugue No. 13, meas. 1-6. 


Wtr^^Vi^r^f Sp '' § P 

7 7 







> -*~ 7 



5 > 7 










There are three sections; a fugue, a contrasting 
section in measures sixty-four through eighty-seven and a 
return to the fugue theme in measure eighty-eight. A short 
section in b Minor precedes the final measures in C major. 

Several instances are found of parallel thirds and 


sixths. These passages are for the most part exact 
intervallic parallels rather than parallel motion which 
reflects a single key for both voices. This device 
introduces cross key relationships as well as mixed and 
altered modes. 

Example 30. Cowell, Fugue No . 13 , meas. 24. 

One other melodic pattern deserves mention: a set of 
descending treble quarter notes against ascending bass 
sixteenth notes in the piano part. It is not a part of the 
fugue theme and does not appear in the solo trombone part 
at any time. The pattern is introduced one time in 
variation in the left hand. There are four instances of a 
pattern of descending tritone, fourth, andd fourth (G, D- 
flat, A-flat, E-flat) . The pattern is transposed twice (D, 
A-flat, E-flat, B-flat) . In both the original and 
transposed forms, the ascending sixteenth note counterpoint 
is in C Major. The appearance of this pattern nine times 
in the movement make it a significant transitional motive, 


but it cannot be accounted for as being derivative from the 
theme melody, neither does it appear in the contrasting 
middle section. 

That this movement is confusing harmonically cannot be 
argued. It must be approached polyphonically . The 
constantly shifting modalities and tonal centers negate any 
feeling of key relationships. The parallelism establishes 
a polytonal feeling. This type of parallelism is in the 
nature of "gymel" (parallel movement in thirds against a 
cantus firmus) and is somehow most appropriate in music 
which finds its roots in the singing school movement. The 
theme is easily heard and followed in each of the three 
voices, and the resolution in C major brings the piece to a 
logical and harmonically acceptable conclusion. 

Hymn and Fuguing Tune No . 16 
For Violin and Piano 

Cowell began No. 16 with a theme that he had 
previously used in Hymn No . 14 , and would use again in his 
Simultaneous Mosaics for five players (Lichtenwanger #923). 
Two different combinations of instruments are used: violin 
and piano, and full orchestra. Lichtenwanger lists the one 
for violin and piano as #921, and the transcription for 
orchestra as #921a. The composer completed #921 in October 
of 1963, and the orchestral version has a completion date 
of March, 1964. In between these two works Cowell produced 


Gravely and Vigorously (which took the place of Hymn and 

Fuguing Tune No . 17 ) , Simultaneous Mosaics , and Christmas 

1963 . — These creations indicate a considerable amount of 

compositional activity for Cowell in his last years. It 

also puts the orchestral version out of sequence with the 

works which were written before it but which have higher 


Harold Schonberg of The New York Times gives a 

favorable but mild review for the world premiere of #921a 

by Leonard Bernstein and the New York Philharmonic: 

[Cowell *s] contributions to American music have 
been somewhat passed over, but one of these days 
he will emerge as the important figure he 
was. . . The work is sweet, diatonic, and yet has 
a good_deal of Cowell's strong musical person- 

Halsey Stevens, on the other hand, has little good to 

say about this work: 

The legacy of William Billings, whose "fuguing 
pieces" represented a quaintly naive attempt at 
counterpoint, is not an altogether unmixed 
blessing. Henry Cowell was in the vanguard of 
those who seized upon Billings as justification 
for their own quasi-primitive, wrong-note 
polyphony. For a time these imitations were 
amusing and now and then wickedly delicious, but 
by No. 16 (and who knows how many more Cowell 
left?) the point of the joke is blunted. A 
genuine naif is one thing, a sophisticate playing 
the innocent is quite another. 

The present example, dedicated to Sidney Harth, 
is characteristic of the genre: the Hymn, in 

22 Lichtenwanger , The Music of Henry Cowell , p. 305, 

23 Harold C. Schonberg, "Music: a Cowell and Varese 
Tribute," NY Times , October 7, 1966, p. 34, col. 1. 


moderate tempo, juxtaposing arid wastes of white- 
key music with willfully perverse chromaticism, 
stringing out unpunctuated and rhythmically 
monotonous melodies like so many diapers on the 
line; the Fuguing Tune exploiting an ungraceful 
subject with polyphonic treatment which is at 
best schulerhaf t — and not a very gifted Schuler 
One wonders why Cowell, whose music is 
dventurous and often impressive, was led 
e byways, which seem a prodigal waste of 

at that, 
usually a 
into thes 
time and 

Hymn 1 

The melody is reminiscent of hymns such as What 

Wondrous Love is This found in Early American singing 

school books. The contour is similar, the range is 

limited, the simple rhythm is essentially composed of 

quarter notes and half notes, and the tonality is natural 

minor or one of the more accessible ecclesiastical modes, 

such as Dorian or Mixolydian. 

Example 31. Cowell, Hymn No. 16 meas. 1-8. 




i \ 







i i ^c 

24 Halsey Stevens, "Henry Cowell: Hymn and Fuguing Tune 
No. 16," Notes , 26/3 (March 1970): 622. 

25 Sacred Harp , edited by B. F. White (Philadelphia: 
Collins, 1860) , p. 159. 


Example 32. Traditional, What Wondrous Love, meas. 1-8. 







O • — rf 





This Hymn depends more on repetition than on 
development of the thematic material. There are four 
themes, each with its own texture and characteristic sound. 
Each theme has regular four-measure phrases, and each, 
except for the D theme or section, has a total of sixteen 
measures in the section. The first eight measures of the A 
and B themes are used in repetition without the last half 
of the theme. For purposes of this discussion, these 
themes are labeled A,, A 2 and B, , B 2 . In the orchestral 
version the eight measures of Al, A2, Bl and B2 must be 
further delineated into shorter sections; A, , A,, , B, , 

B lb* 

The organization of the movement is A., A 2 , B,, B 2 , C, 

B. , B 2 D, A,, D, B, , A. Considering the similarity of the 

A, and C theme, the form suggests a modified rondo. This 

is a departure from Cowell's usual three-part form for the 

hymns and fuguing tunes. The A section in G Mixolydian has 

16 measures. The B section which begins immediately in D 

minor has two eight-measure sections with a differing 


texture for each (B 1 and B 2 ) . The C section in E minor 
begins with the same melodic pattern as the A section, but 
in the third measure deviates sufficiently that it can not 
be considered a variation of A, but a completely new 
section. A repetition of B follows, varied by having the 
violin and the right hand of the piano down an octave, and 
changing the articulation. A completely different section 
of four measures (D) , follows before the return of A, this 
time in C Mixolydian. The D section is repeated down an 
octave, and then the B. section returns, followed by the A 
section which is duplicated exactly except for altered 
chord structure in the piano left hand from closed to open 

Although textures are altered for each section, they 
are not altered in the repetition of the section. The 
texture for A is homophonic; every melodic tone has a 
change of chord, and the chords are chosen more to include 
the melodic note into the triad than to satisfy traditional 
harmonic progression, which Cowell typically ignores. The 
Bl section has a single voice obbligato above the melody, 
the B2 section is in parallel thirds with a single 
accompanying counter-melody voice in the piano part. C 
uses an accompanying three part polyphonic texture. D has 
three voices alternating on eighth note-patterns. 


Example 33. Cowell, Hymn No. 16, meas 1-2. 

Example 34. Cowell, Hymn No. 16, meas. 18-20, 


ffig -v i, 1 .* 1 ** 









Example 35. Cowell, Hymn No. 16, meas. 26-28. 

Ifrrr i r^i**? 


Example 36. Cowell, Hymn No. 16, meas. 35-37, 




-• ar 

Li J 


J=U : 


I I 

1 *1 P- 


'■M g 


Example 37. Cowell, Hymn No. 16, meas. 68-69, 


j T'lIJtj. 




i jet 


£=£? ^f 

Cowell has again used traditional harmonic progression 
only in the overall scheme; tonic, dominant, sub-mediant, 
sub-dominant, dominant, and tonic. But this relationship 
only applies to the tonality of sixteen-measure sections. 
In the measures the chords are generally chosen by parallel 
position, and are diatonic to the modality of the melody. 


Leading tones, and chromatic devices such as temporary 
dominants, are not included. 

The version for orchestra is a transcription, rather 
than an arrangement. The notes are reproduced as 
originally written. There are few additions or altered 
passages. Although the notes are not changed, the use of 
the tone colors of the orchestra does change the character 
of the work. 

The quality of sound is altered with every phrase. 
The instrumentation has been chosen for maximum contrast, 
rather than for purposes of mixing and blending. Although 
repetitions of sections are not altered notationaly, there 
is no attempt to repeat the tone color of the first 
statement. Indeed there is little repetition of any of the 
tone colors. 

The full orchestra is utilized only once, at the end 

of the Hymn. As can be seen from the following list, each 

short section is treated to its own contrasting tone color. 

Table 2. Ochestration in Cowell Hymn No. 16. 


Trumpet, Trombone, Tuba 

Woodwind, Strings, Horn 


Viola, Violin, oboe, clarinet, Bassoon 

Flute, Oboe, Violin, Cello, Bass 

Clarinet, violin I, violin II 

Oboe, Bassoon, Horn 

Trumpet, Strings 

Trumpet, Bassoon, Violin, Viola 


Horn, Trumpet (61-62 cello) 


























B2b 62-65 Horn, Oboe 

Da 66-69 Piccolo, Flute, Violin 

Db 70-73 Flute, Oboe, Violin solo 

Al 73-80 Woodwind and Brass 

Transition 81-82 Brass 

D 82-89 Violin I divisi, Violin II 

Bl 89-97 Strings 

A 97-115 Full Orchestra 

Fuguing Tune 

The fugue subject begins with the outline of a triad 
in root position, and this motive occurs throughout the 
movement. The answer is in the subdominant (G) but, by 
keeping the original key signature, a change in mode is the 
result. The subject is in D Dorian, and the answer is in G 
Mixolydian. The subject has two distinctive elements or 
phrases, and both phrases are used as motives in the 
movement. The answer is started in the same voice that 
began the fugue, and the second voice begins in canon at 
the interval of a quarter note. The third voice enters in 
the original key and mode, but in cantus f irmus style in 
whole notes instead of eighth notes for the first four 
notes of the phrase. Toward the end of the fugal section 
there is a recapitulation of the exposition, but one tone 
lower than the original statement. 

In the Peters Edition, from which this analysis is 

made, there is an error in the piano part in measure 43. 

3 3 

The B should be a B-flat . Fortunately, there is an 


orchestral version to check this problem, and, in that 
version, the clarinet is written concert B-flat. 

Cowell employs an interesting variation of "horn 
fifths," a combination of intervals in which the upper 
voice plays three ascending diatonic tones while the lower 
voice accompanies with intervals of a minor sixth, perfect 
fifth, and major third. In Cowell's hands the accompanying 
intervals are a perfect fifth, a fourth and a minor third. 
This motive appears in measures 14, 45, and 50. 

Example 39. Cowell, Fuguing Tune No . 16 , meas 14. 

As in many of the other hymns and fuguing tunes, the 
linear progression is more important than the harmonic 
progression. Measures 10 through measure 12, for example, 
use notes which form the chords A minor, B-flat major, B- 
flat major, G minor, second inversion A minor and third 
inversion of G major, interspersed with some dissonant 
secondary chords. Analysis of the melodic lines does 
reveal that the lines are generally consistent with a 
specific mode and tonality. They often shift, however, 


without warning (i.e. from G Mixolydian to G minor, or G 
major, or to the dominant of C) . A logical transformation 
can nevertheless be found. 

In analyzing music in a traditional form there are 
generally two modes to consider, major and minor (which can 
be in three forms, natural, melodic and harmonic) . Once 
the tonality is determined, as indicated by the key 
signature, an aural understanding of the music can be made 
(Mozart's Symphony No. 40 in G Minor, Beethoven's Symphony 
No. 4^ _in B-f lat Major, etc.) In Cowell's music one must 
add the tonal/modal qualities of the ecclesiastical modes 
thereby expanding the number of possibilities which must be 
considered. This can confuse the ear not accustomed to 
those particular patterns. 

The following chart will illustrate the possible modal 
Table 3. Modal Combinations 

Major Dorian Phrygian Lydian Mixolydian Minor Locrian 

flat (Ionian) 









1 F 







2 Bb 







3 Eb 







4 Ab 







5 Db 








1 G 







2 D 







3 A 







4 E 








Cowell does not normally explore keys which use four 
or five flats or sharps. He does change from one mode to 
another abruptly, and he does borrow notes from one mode to 
enhance another. The most common use of modal borrowing is 
the raised third from the major mode when in Dorian, 
Phrygian and Minor, and the lowered second from the Dorian 
mode when in Major, Lydian and Mixolydian. 

This constant shift of tonality and modality can be 
confusing both aurally and analytically. There may even be 
disagreement in analyzing Cowell's intent as every section 
using a particular set of flats or sharps could be 
interpreted in seven different tonalities. This author has 
attempted to define the most likely intent, considering 
context and aural clues. 

Cowell has been particularly inventive in the harmonic 
scheme of this movement. D Dorian is answered by G 
Mixolydian, G Minor and G Mixolydian. D returns not in 
Dorian but in Minor (the dominant of) G Mixolydian. Cowell 
then goes through several tonal centers in a dominant to 
tonic pattern. The G Mixolydian leads to C Major and C 
Minor which becomes dominant for F Major. The F Major 
leads to B-flat Minor which becomes dominant for E-flat 
Major. Eb Major is the dominant of A-flat, the relative 
Minor of C Major. Cowell does not follow with the expected 
A-flat Major or C Minor, but with the Minor sounding C 
Dorian instead. F Mixolydian is next, then the contrasting 


middle section in G Mixolydian, which returns to the 
beginning in a Dal Segno repetition. D Dorian is used in 
the coda to end the movement. Cowell uses common chord 
modulation often in this particular fuguing tune to effect 
the change in tonality. The form is three-part with a 
coda. The piano-violin version has a Dal Segno repeat 
which leads to a coda in measure 28. The middle section is 
added on to the end of the fugal section which closes with 
a quite proper restatement of the exposition (although one 
tone lower than the original) . This middle section is not 
done in fugal fashion and is totally different in 
character, articulation and melody than the rest of the 
movement. There are five three-measure phrases. Each 
phrase ends with four accented quarter notes after which 
the next phrase begins anew. This entire section is 
repeated before the movement returns to the beginning for 
the Dal Segno and Coda. None of the melodic material in 
the middle section is found in the rest of the movement. 

The Fugue is in three voices, a texture found in most 
of the series. The piano has one voice for each hand, and 
the violin has the third voice. Only in the contrasting 
middle section are there more than three simultaneous 

The orchestral version #921a is scored for flute, 
oboe, two clarinets, two bassoons, horn, three trumpets, 


three trombones, tuba and strings. The essentially three- 
voice texture is held inviolate throughout most of the 
piece. Except for one section of the fugue, only three 
orchestral voices play at a time, and the melodic material 
is tossed to different tonal combinations in turn. 

Cowell does use the strings as a group more often than 
any other combination: measures 10-12, 18-19, 28-29, 32-33, 
50-54, 57-62, 69-70, 78-80, 110-111. The other instruments 
are used in combination with their own families, or with 
parts of the string section. 

As with the Hymn in this piece, the orchestration 
duplicates the original tones very closely. One exception 
to this occurs in measures 42 and 43. In the violin and 
piano version there are three linear lines. In the 
orchestral version the lower line is omitted. All voices 
ascend in parallel triads in differing rhythmic patterns. 
There are several distinctive parallel fifths and fourths 
in the upper voices which are less obvious with the 
presence of the lower voice. Evidently Cowell wanted to 
emphasize the hollow sound of the parallelism in the 
orchestral version rather than the triadic fullness of the 
earlier version. 


Example 40. Cowell, Fuguing Tune No . 16 (L.#921), 
meas. 42-43. 


M ! m »fe frikitr ^ 

Example 41. Cowell, Fuguing Tune No . 16 (L.#921a), 
meas. 42-43. 

In the violin and piano version the violin plays both 
the subject and the first answer. In the orchestral 
version the violin have the first statement with the answer 


by the horn, followed by the clarinet. This is more 
compatible with standard practice than the earlier version. 

As mentioned above, the three-voice character of the 
fugue is maintained in the orchestral version. The first 
doubling occurs in the measure 19. Until that time the 
instruments are used individually to vary the tone color in 
the melodic line. The alteration of the tonal qualities 
adds tension to rising melodic lines which is not as 
obvious in the version for violin and piano. 

In measure 20 the full orchestra is used tutti . In 
this measure however, is one of the few changes made from 
the original. In L. #921 for piano and violin, the first 
beat in the measure is rhythmic pattern of one eighth and 
two sixteenth notes. In L. #921a for orchestra, in this 
measure the first beat is silent, emphasizing the weight of 
the tonal contrast. In the piano version measure 20 is 
almost the middle of a continuous phrase. There is no 
indication that this is to be a climactic moment. The 
silent first beat in the orchestra part followed by all 
instruments playing forte marks this place as the beginning 
of a section of major contrast. 

In the recapitulation of the orchestral version the 
pattern discussed above is altered once more. The first 
beat of the measure is sounded by the horn, trumpets, 
violins and viola instead of being a silent first beat. 


The doubling which begins in measure 20 continues only 
for four measures the first time through the section, 
continuing in the three voice texture which preceded it. 
In the written out repeat, the doubling continues from the 
same place in the music until the end of the movement. 

The middle section discussed above is not repeated in 

the orchestral version, but is re-orchestrated with an 

additional change of articulation. In measure 65, the 

articulation is four accented quarter notes: 

Example 42. Cowell, Fuguing Tune No . 16 
(L.#921a) , meas. 65. 

a I. 


In measure 80 (which corresponds to measure 65 in the 
written out repeat) the first two quarter notes are by 
strings, slurred, piano, and the second two quarters echo 
in the clarinet and bassoon. 


Example 43. Cowell, Fuguing Tune No . 16 
(L.#921a) , meas. 80. 



This echo answer is continued in like fashion through the 

What is a Dal Segno repetition in the violin and piano 
version is, in the orchestral version, written out. It 
also begins piano instead of forte, and is played legato 
instead of articulated. 


The addition of orchestral colors outlines phrases in 

a manner which is less clear with violin and piano. In 

measure 34. the left hand piano has the following figure: 

Example 44. Cowell, Fuguing Tune No . 16 (L#921) , 
meas 34. 


In the orchestral version the clarinet plays the first 

four notes, while the horn picks up the phrase in the 

middle of the pattern. This particular phrasing is an 

example of how orchestration alters the music without 

altering the notes. 

Example 45. Cowell, Fuguing Tune No . 16 (L#921a) , 
meas. 34. 



P ' cu v 


Only a few of the hymns and fuguing tunes were 
provided in more than one version. This one offers an 
opportunity to review the music from two perspectives. 
Cowell continues his preference for the three-part voicing 
even when he has the resources of a full orchestra to use. 
This is in keeping with his understanding of Walker's 
practice in writing the early fuguing tunes. His 


orchestration seems to be more for contrast and clarity 
than for blending and thickening. 

This work, which comes late in Cowell's life and 
development as a composer, is not an experiment, but rather 
a well-designed effort in a medium with which the composer 
was confident and comfortable. The reiteration of his 
intent by orchestrating the earlier work with only minimal 
changes is sufficient verification that he was satisfied 
with the result. 

Gravely and Vigorously 
For Cello Alone 

in Memory of President John F. Kennedy 

This work, #922 in Lichtenwanger ' s listing, was 
conceived as a hymn and fuguing tune, and was assigned 
number 17. The publisher, however, "urged that a memorial 
piece like this not be issued as part of a series, so 
Cowell converted the tempo marks into a title. No other 
work took its place as No. 17 in the hymn and fuguing tune 

„ 26 


The date on the music is November 23, 1963, the day 
after the death of Kennedy. The dedication and the date 
suggest that Cowell wrote this work in less than twenty- 
four hours. Unless Cowell had previously had the 

26 Lichtenwanger, The Music of Henry Cowell , p. 306. 


manuscript in hand and merely added the dedication on the 
day after the assassination, it shows a remarkable facility 
for marshalling his musical thoughts. It is all the more 
remarkable when one recalls the events of that day: the 
utter absorption with the images on the television screen, 
the funeral music being played over the radio, and the 
emotional turmoil being felt by the entire country. That a 
man could channel his feelings into a musical work and 
complete it in the time frame indicated by the dedication 
date is impressive. 

The work is in two movements, the first slow and 
restrained, and the second quick. As is so often the case, 
Cowell uses a Da Capo form; Da Capo al Fine in the Hymn, 
and a Dal Segno al Fine in the Fugue. These devices 
automatically impose an A-B-A form on each movement. 


The movement is in three half notes to the measure 
with a half note being equal to 60 mm. There are no double 
stops for the instrument in the A section of the Hymn. The 
monophonic texture of the first part recalls the sound of 
early Gregorian Chant. The mode is C Minor. 
Example 45. Cowell, Gravely and Vigorously, meas. 1-6. 


Although the absence of secondary harmonic voices and 
the insertion of non-harmonic tones confuses the harmonic 
progression, the even phrases and cadence formulae permit 
the ear to establish a tonality and harmonic progression 
for the movement. In C Minor, that progression is: tonic, 
sub-mediant, dominant, tonic and tonic (a total of five 
phrases of six measures each) . The rhythm in each phrase 
is imitative as is the melody. 

Cowell usually uses modes in his hymns and fuguing 
tunes, but the only modal suggestion in this hymn is in the 
fourth phrase when he flats the second scale degree briefly 
for a Phrygian sound and then reverts to the major second 
before the final. 

Octave displacement is a feature of this first section 
as well. The melody often continues at the octave 
interval, which lends an angular shape to a melody that 
would be otherwise trite. 

The B section makes use of double stops alternating 
with a rhythmic pattern of eight eighth notes/two quarter 
notes. There are four phrases in the B section, two of six 
measures, and two of seven measures. 
Example 46. Cowell, Gravely and Vigorously , meas. 31-33. 


.. VPr i RT imfTTVjirin 1 


Harmonically the B section establishes G Minor and C 
both Major and Minor before leading back to the Da Capo 
with a scale passage on the dominant of C Minor. 

Each phrase in the B section has a clearly defined 
cadence: tonic in inversion, dominant, tonic in root 
position. This cadence is found in the middle of the 
phrase instead of the end. This has the effect of 
establishing a tonality, but leaving the phrase ending 
somewhat ambivalent. 

The Hymn has a plaintive sound due to its monophonic 
chant-like construction. The contrasting B section has 
continually shifting tonality and modality. 

This Hymn uses a greater dynamic range than many of 
Cowell's others, three of the phrases in the first section 
reaching fortissimo, and the fourth phrase reaching 
pianissimo. The second section begins and ends forte, and 
diminishes to piano in the middle. These features add to 
the expressive qualities of the movement. 


A fugue is by definition a polyphonic form. The first 
melodic statement continues while the second statement or 
answer begins in another register. The answer in this 
fugue is sounded monophonically except for the whole note 
which concludes the motive. 


The four measure theme (in C Major) is repeated at the 
same pitch before modulating to the dominant for the second 
statement, which is also repeated at its own set of 
pitches. The third statement is at an octave above the 
original, and stated again at the subdominant. These third 
and fourth statements are not repeated. These statements 
are followed by one in the supertonic and another in the 
submediant. A brief development concludes the first 
section. The second section is comprised of new melodic 
material in short fragments. These fragments outline 
tonalities of G Major, B Major, E Minor (both its tonic and 
its dominant) , and G Major which leads back to the fugal 
section in C Major. 

This fugue is more derivative of the fugue idea than 
an actual fugue. It may be argued that a two or three 
voice fugue is not practical on a single instrument, but 
other composers have managed to accomplish it on string 
instruments, so Cowell's purpose in realizing this movement 
in this manner may be considered to be deliberate. 


Several research questions were presented in Chapter 
1. The first asked how Cowell, as an educator, approached 
the teaching of music of the twentieth century? From the 
course descriptions examined in Chapter 4, a commitment to 
contemporary music and composers was indicated. Although 
the traditional masters of the past were not ignored, the 
emphasis on current musical trends was dominant. Among the 
ways Cowell exhibited this commitment were leading his 
students to examine music more in regard to its own 
inherent aesthetic qualities rather than to place music in 
a historical framework, offering his classes a variety of 
techniques to use in approaching contemporary music, and 
providing them the opportunity to experience the music in 

In examining the second research question related to 
his efforts in music education concerning the composers and 
techniques which were covered in Cowell's classes, the 
course outlines reveal a preponderance of classes dedicated 
to the musical issues of the day as opposed to an 
examination of the practices encountered in the standard 
music literature of the nineteenth century. 



During the 1930s and 1940s many of the leading 
composers of Europe left their homeland and resettled in 
the United States. Many of them were present in New York 
City for a period of time. As this area became the 
cultural hub of the United States at this time, many 
American composers also gravitated to this center. Cowell 
made use of this unusual pool of talent by having these 
composers meet with his classes and explain their methods 
and techniques. All of the guests who shared their time 
have not become famous, but Cowell's selection is, on the 
whole, prophetic: Aaron Copland, John Cage, Paul Creston, 
Richard Franko Goldman, Otto Luening, Douglas Moore, Virgil 
Thomson, Edgard Varese, Bela Bartok, John Alden Carpenter, 
Morton Gould, William Grant Still, and others. Cowell not 
only had composers as guests, he also invited various 
ethnic groups to demonstrate their unique musical talents 
to his students. It must be admitted that Cowell's 
situation in having access to this vast pool of talent was 
unusual; however, Cowell seems to have been alone in 
availing himself of the opportunity to tap this resource. 
A pivotal point of this study is the realization that 
Cowell did not limit his students to a particular 
professor's understanding of the world of music, but rather 
brought the world of music into the classroom for the 
students to view and hear and judge. 


The third of the research questions related to 
Cowell's career in music education had to do with his 
efforts to close the distance between the artist and the 
audience of the twentieth century. In addition to the 
points stressed above which permitted students to become 
familiar with current techniques and personalities of their 
own day, Cowell sponsored concert series and reading 
sessions of modern music. He also offered continuing 
education opportunities in his course, permitting greater 
depth to the coverage of the contemporary music scene. 

The research question related to Cowell's own musical 
output asked if Cowell was able to establish a relationship 
between the handling of new musical materials and old rules 
of harmony and counterpoint. Although Cowell was most 
often recognized for his experiments in piano technique, 
this area of his compositional activity is rather limited 
when compared to his total output. The hymns and fuguing 
tunes are a representative part of his work, built on a 
historical premise: the early American hymn and fuguing 
tune. That the concept is used by an experimental 
modernist offered the opportunity to discover the 
relationships between modern and traditional approaches to 

The form of the hymns and fuguing tunes themselves are 
well established historically: chorale and fugue, toccata 


and fugue, and two-part overture, etc. Cowell uses simple 
ternary construction (A-B-A) in many of the works. Within 
this setting are found the use of modal scales as well as 
scale patterns of Cowell's own devising. This use of 
established forms and patterns is tempered by a freedom to 
alter the forms in their classical sense to the point that 
there could be some question as to whether the label 
accurately describes the result. Chromatic dissonance, 
unexpected harmonic combinations, and unusual instrumental 
colors are a few of the other features which place these 
works firmly in the modern camp. 

In Chapter 1 the preliminary review of current 
literature revealed that a need has been expressed for a 
more comprehensive approach to the music education 
curriculum. Specifically, the curriculum needs to include: 
music other than those of the Western tradition, and the 
experimental directions of the expanding Western art music 
repertory. The results of this study have demonstrated a 
congruence between the methods of Cowell in his pedagogical 
career and the concerns of music educators in our own time 
some fifty years later. 

The outlines of Henry Cowell's classes "Music of the 
World's Peoples" could serve as a model for the kind of 
educational experience that is being recommended. He had 
his students experience music of many cultures, related 


those musical ideas to the growth of Western music, and 
presented a wholistic view of world music. 

The study revealed Cowell's concern about the 
pervasiveness of the European tradition in a country where 
the common cultural ties are increasingly tenuous. Much of 
his emphasis was on the need for raising the consciousness 
of Americans about their own composers. 

In his concert career he not only performed, he 
lectured about the materials of new music. In his articles 
and books and in his extended teaching career, the focal 
point of Cowell's life was to build bridges between the 
public and the artistic community. He did this by creating 
an opportunity for artists and community to discuss 
together, to listen together, and to share experiences. 
Cowell went beyond the sterile lecture/demonstration type 
of presentation by having composers and performers come to 
his classes and discuss their work in person. This type of 
personal appearance would likely have had an effect of 
increasing interest in the music of the cultures and of the 
composers that participated in these sessions. The 
effectiveness of the approach may be partially evaluated by 
the number of years that it was included as part of the New 
School curriculum. 

It must be noted that the courses taught by Cowell 
that most closely reflect the recommendations now being 


made by the College Music Society and others, were offered 
at the New School for Social Research rather than at 
Columbia, Peabody, Stanford, or Mills College. The New 
School was oriented more toward adult education than 
traditional schools that serve the post adolescent. 
Because of its less traditional role, the New School seems 
to have afforded its professors greater freedom in the 
structuring of new classes and in the content of the 
classes than would be true in other colleges or 
universities. The implication is that those colleges 
serving the traditional student, and required to abide by 
the strictures of regulating agencies such as the National 
Association of Schools of Music, may not have the 
flexibility necessary to implement the kinds of changes 
being advocated by current research. Curriculum changes 
may need to be implemented and proven in less traditional 
settings before they can be integrated into programs 
already overloaded with requirements. 

Future research might include investigation of other 
pedagogical models with a similar commitment to a 
comprehensive music education curriculum. Such research 
could lead to the development of curriculum more in tune 
with the demands of the twenty first century. 

Richard Franko Goldman provided the following 
summation of Cowell's influence, in which his contributions 
in the area of pedagogy are clearly and movingly stated: 


Henry was a mover, and one of the enliveners of 
music in our time. All of us, whatever our 
musical tastes and practices, owe him a great 
deal. He helped two generations to see and think 
and hear, and he helped to create and build a 
foundation for "modern" music in America. This 
is not a small achievement; it is a gigantic one, 
and should not be forgotten. 

1 Richard Franko Goldman, "Henry Cowell (1897-1965): A 
Memoir and an Appreciation," Perspectives of New Music , 
4/2 (Spring-Summer 1966): p. 28 


Sydenham's Chorea (Chorea Minor; Rheumatic Chorea; St. 
Vitus' Dance). Sydenham's chorea is generally regarded as 
an inflammatory complication of Group A B-hemolytic 
streptococcal infections. After the infection, the time 
interval before the onset of chorea (sometimes up to 6 mo) 
is longer than that of other rheumatic complications, and 
the chorea may begin as, or after, other clinical and 
laboratory features have returned to normal. ...Sydenham's 
chorea may thus appear to be an isolated unrelated event. 
Symptoms and Signs 

The patient develops rapid, purposeless, nonrepetitive 
movements that may involve all muscles except the eyes. 
Voluntary movements are abrupt, with impaired coordination. 
Facial grimacing is common. 

No medication is consistently effective. ...Chorea is 

best regarded and treated as a transitory, reversible form 

of cerebral palsy. ...the ailment is self-limited, it will 

ultimately subside without residual damage, and... the 

temporary impairment of motor functions will not affect 

intellectual capacity. 

See "Neurologic Disorders: Sydenham's Chorea,: The Merck 
Manual 15th edition, edited by Robert Berkow, M.D. (Rahway: 
Merck Sharp and Dohme Research Laboratories, 1987) pp. 




1930 Spring 

A world survey of Contemporary music 

1931 Winter 

What the Twentieth Century has added to Music 

1931 Fall 

Appreciation of Modern Music 

Comparison of the Musical systems of the world 

Workshop in modern music 

Concert series 

1932 Spring 

Musical systems of the world 

Appreciation of modern music 

workshop in modern music 

concert series 

The place of music in society 

Music and Concert Series 

Theory and Practice of Combining Rhythms (Work course) 

Contemporary American Music 

Music Systems of the World (Comparative Musicology) . 

Concert Series 

New Possibilities in Piano Playing 

(Cowell taught first semester, was in Germany 2nd) 

Primitive and Folk Origins of Music 

Creative Music Today 

a. Elementary Harmony (Work Course) 

b. Modern Harmony 

The Creation of Music (how to compose-for beginners) 
Primitive and Folk Origins of Music 
Creative Music Today (Work Course) 

a. Elementary Harmony 

b. Modern Harmony 

Theory and Practice of Rhythm (work course) 



Cowell is not listed in the catalogues from Spring 1936 to 
Spring 1941 

1941 Spring 

Creative Music in America 

Workshop in Musical Theory 

Symposiums on Current Musical Issues 

Creative Music in the Americas 

Musical Theory (work course) 

Musical composition (work course) 

Symposiums on Current Musical Issues 
1942-Spring cont 

The Art of Listening to Music 

Introduction to Musical Theory (work course) 

Musical Theory: Advanced 

Musical Theory: Introduction 

Musical Theory: Advanced 
1943 Spring 

Musical Theory: Introduction 

Musical Theory: Advanced 

Music of the Peoples of the World 

Musical Theory: Introduction 

Musical Theory: Advanced 
1944-January 10 

Music of the Peoples of the World 

Musical Theory: Introduction 

Musical Theory: Advanced 
1944-September May 1, 1944 

Music of the Peoples of the World 

Music as an Art and a Livelihood 

Elementary Music Theory 

Creative Music and Free Composition 

Cowell is not listed for either fall or spring 

1946 September 2 

Music Theory: Elementary 
Music Theory: Advanced 

1947 Spring December 30, 1946 
Music Theory: Elementary 
Music Theory: Advanced 

1947 September 1 

Music of the Peoples of the World 
Music Theory: Elementary 
Music Theory: Advanced 


1948 Spring December 29 

Music of the Peoples of the World 
Music Theory: Elementary 
Music Theory: Advanced 

1948 September 6 

Music of the World's Peoples 
The Meaning of Modern Music 
Music Theory: Elementary 
Music Theory: Intermediate 

1949 Spring 

Music of the World's People in America 
Living Composers 
Music Theory: Elementary 
Music Theory: Advanced 
1949 September 5 

The Meaning of Modern Music 

Living Composers 

Music of the World's Peoples 

1949 cont. 

Music Theory: Elementary 
Music Theory: Intermediate 
Music Theory: Advanced 
Seminar in Musical Composition 

1950 Spring January 2 

Music of the World's Peoples 
Theory: Elementary 
Theory: Intermediate 
Theory: Advanced 
Seminar in Musical Composition 
1950-1951 September 4 

Music of the World's Peoples 
The Meaning of Modern Music 
Living Composers 
(Music Workshops) 
Pre-Elementary Theory 
Music Theory: Elementary 
Music Theory: Intermediate 
Music Theory: Advanced 
Orchestration Workshop 

1951 January 1 

Music of the World's Peoples 
The Meaning of Modern Music 
Living Composers 
Seminar in Musical Composition 
(Music Workshops) 
Pre-Elementary Theory 
Music Theory: Elementary 
Music Theory: Intermediate 
Music Theory: Advanced 


1951 Summer April 9 
The Nature of Music 
Music of the World's Peoples 

1951-1952 September 3 

Music of the World's Peoples 
The Meaning of Modern Music I 
The Meaning of Modern Music II 
Pre-Elementary Theory 
Music Theory: Elementary 
Music Theory: Intermediate 
Music Theory: Advanced 
Seminar in Orchestration 
Seminar in Musical Composition 

1952 Spring January 7 
Music of the World's Peoples 
The Meaning of Modern Music II 
Music Theory: Elementary 
Music Theory: Intermediate 
Music Theory: Advanced 

1952-1953 September 1 

Music of the World's Peoples 

Musical Iconoclasts 

Elements of Music I 

Harmony and Counterpoint 

Materials of Modern Music 

Seminar in Composition and Orchestration 

1953 Spring, January 5 
Music of the World's Peoples 
Classics of 20th Century Music 
Elements of Music I 
Harmony and Counterpoint 
Materials of Modern Music 
Seminar in Composition and Orchestration 

1954-1955 September 7 

Music of the World's Peoples 
Classics of 20th Century Music 
How to Read Notes (workshop) 
Elements of Music I (workshop) 
Harmony and Counterpoint I (workshop) 
Harmony and Counterpoint II (workshop) 
The Materials of Modern Music (workshop) 
♦Rhythm - Sidney Robertson Cowell 

1954 Spring January 4 
Music of the World's Peoples 
Classics of 20th Century Music 
How to read Notes (workshop) 
Harmony and Counterpoint II (workshop) 
The Materials of Modern Music (workshop) 

*Rhythm - Sidney Robertson Cowell 


1954-1955 September 6 

Current Music Concerts 

Opera Concerts 

Music of the World's Peoples 

Classics of the 20th century 

How to Read Notes (workshop) 

The Materials of Modern Music (workshop) 
1955 Spring January 3 

Current Music Concerts 

Music of the World's Peoples 

How to Read Notes (workshop) 

The Materials of Modern Music (workshop) 

1955 Summer Session April 18 
The Nature of Music 

1955-1956 September 5 

Current Music Concerts 
Music of the World's Peoples 

Masterpieces of 20th Century Music (HC and 


Materials of Modern Music (HC and Wigglesworth) 

1956 Spring Jan 2 

Masterpieces of 20th Century Music 
How to Read Notes 


Cowell not listed 

1957 Spring January 1 
Cowell not listed 

1957 Summer April 8 
Cowell not listed 

1957-1958 September 2 

Masterpieces of 20th Century Music (HC and 


Music of the World's Peoples 

1958 Spring 1958 

Masterpieces of 20th Century Music (HC alone) 

1958 Summer April 7 
Cowell not listed 

1958-1959 September 1 

Masterpieces of 20th Century Music (Wigglesworth) 
Music of the World's Peoples 
Advanced Composition 

1959 Spring January 5 

Masterpieces of 20th Century Music 

Advanced Composition 
1959 Summer April 20 

Cowell not listed 
1959-1960 September 7 

Music of the World's Peoples 


1960 Spring January 4 
Masterpieces of 

196 Summer April 4 

Cowell not liste 

1960-1961 September 5 
Masterpieces of 
Music of the Wor 

1961 Spring January 2 
Music of the Wor 

1961-1962 September 4 
Masterpieces of 
Music of the Wor 

1962 Spring January 1 
Music of the Wor 
Masterpieces of 

1962-1963 Fall Septem 
Music of the Wor 
Masterpieces of 

1963 Spring January 1 
Music of the Wor 
Masterpieces of 

1963-1964 Fall Septem 
Masterpieces of 
Music of the Wor 

1964 Spring January 1 
Cowell Not Liste 

20th Century Music 


20th Century Music 
Id's Peoples 

Id's Peoples 

20th Century Music 

Id's Peoples 


Id's Peoples 

20th Century Music 

ber 4 

Id's Peoples 

20th Century Music 

Id's Peoples 
20th Century 
ber 4 

20th Century 
Id's Peoples 





Literature of Opera 
Literature of the Symphony 


Literature of the Opera 
Literature of the Symphony 
Twentieth Century Music 


Introduction to Music 




Advanced Composition 




Form and Analysis I 

Form and Analysis II 

History of Music I 

History of Music II 

Music Literature I 

Music Literature II 

Music Literature III 

Music literature IV 

Music Literature V 

Music Literature VI 

Music Literature VII 

Music Literature VIII 

Music of the 20th Century 

Principles of Teaching 

Principles of Composition 

Form and Analysis 

History of Music 

Solfege IV 

Form and Analysis I 

Form and Analysis II 

Keyboard and Aural Harmony 




Introduction to Contemporary Composition 

Music Literature 


Keyboard and Aural Harmony IV 


1933 Summer 

Comparative Musicology 
193 4 Summer 

The Appreciation of Modern Music (18 lectures) 


1934 Spring 

The Appreciation of Modern Music 



193 4 Summer 

The Appreciation of Modern Music 
Comparative Musicology 


1962 Summer 

Advanced Composition 
196 3 Summer 

Advanced Composition 


Statement of Purposes. The following purposes can be 
stated for the area of Contemporary Music in the United 

(a) To bring about a better cooperation between 
American composers and educators, and 

(b) To select and foster the use of contemporary 
American music in the schools. 

Execution of Purposes. In order to fulfill the 
purposes as stated above they have been classified into (1) 
General, and (2) Specific. 


It is imperative that composers become interested and 
be informed as to the needs and problems of the music 
education field. 

Likewise, music educators should be willing to review 
and preview the work of contemporary American works. On a 
basis of careful examination, periodical recommendations to 
music editors and publishers should be made of desirable 
and suitable material. 


Music educators should make it known that they are not 
only willing but anxious to use their organized groups for 
experimental reading of new compositions. This will not 
only aid the composer but be very beneficial in the 
development of sight-reading. 

The composer will profit by learning desirable 
lengths, difficulty, and general needs. 

There is a very healthy and helpful attitude of 
cooperation between music educators and publishers as well 
as between composers and subscribers. This cooperation 
should be enlarged to form a triangle so that the 



cooperation is among all three (music educators, composers 
and publishers) so that all viewpoints are encompassed at 
the same time. 

A periodic review of contemporary music in 
professional journals will aid greatly. This is done at 
the present time but should be extended. 

By the inclusion of acceptable and desirable 
contemporary works in the Manual for Competition-Festival 
Material which is to be revised, would bring these 
selections to the attention of school music directors. 

Recommendations: That the music educators in the 
field could further the cause of American music by 

(a) the consistent use of contemporary compositions on 
their programs. 

(b) contacting the MENC National Office 

(c) experimental readings of new works from composers, 
local or otherwise. 

It was felt that the committee work in this area is 
vital to the normal musical growth of our young people. 
The full cooperation of the MENC members in the execution 
of this program has been earnestly solicited. 


Allman, William F. "The Musical Brain," IK S^ News and 
World Report (June 11, 1990), pp. 56-62. 

Aspects of Twentieth-Century Music . Gary E. Wittlich 

coordinating editor. Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice- 
Hall, 1975, 483 p. 

Baker 's Biographical Dictionary of Musicians . 7th edition. 
Revised and edited by Nicolas Slonimsky. New York: 
Macmillan Publishers, 1978, pp. 511-513. 

Beeson, Jack. "New School Pays Honor To Cowell," New York 
Times (November 17, 1953), p. 36, Col. 8. 

Binder, Daniel. "Teaching Music History From an American 
Perspective," CMS Proceedings , The National and 
Regional Meetings , 1988 . Edited by Michael J. Budds. 
Boulder: College Music Society, 1990. (p. 73.) 

Block, Geoffrey. Charles Ives , A Bio-Bibliography. New 
York: Greenwood Press, 1988, 422 p. 

Borroff, Edith and Marjory Irvin. Music in Perspective , 
New York: Harcourt Brace Javanovich, Inc., 1976, 
310 p. 

Carter, Elliott. "Expressionism and American Music," 
Perspectives of New Music , 4/1 (Fall-Winter 1965) : 

Chase, Gilbert. America 's Music from the Pilgrims to the 
Present . 3rd edition. Chicago: University of TTlinois 
Press, 1987, 713 p. 

CMS Proceedings , The National and Regional Meetings , 1988 . 
Boulder: College Music Society, 1990, 156 p. 

Copland, Aaron. "America's Young Men of Promise," Modern 
Music , 3/3 (March-April 1926): 13-18. 



"Carlos Chavez," in American Composers on 
American Music . Edited by Henry Cowell. Stanford: 
Stanford University Press, 1933. (pages 102-106.) 

"Our Younger Generation: Ten Years Later," 
Modern Music 13/3 (May-June 1936) : 3-11. 

Cowell, Henry D. American Composers on American Music : A 
Symposium . Stanford: Stanford University Press, 193"3, 
226 p. 

"The Contemorary Composer and His Attitude Toward 
Band Music," Music Publishers Journal , 3/1 (January- 
February 1945): 17, 46-47. 



"Contemporary Musical Creation in Education, 
Etude , 67/9 (September 1954) : 11, 49. 

"Freedom For Young Composers," Music Journa l, 
20/3 (March 1962): 29-30. 

"From Tone Clusters to Contemporary Listeners, 
Music Journal , 14/1 (January 1956) : 5-6. 

"Goldman's Influence," New York Herald Tribune , 
28 December 1947, Section 5, p. 7. 

. Gravely and Vigoursly , for cello. New York: 

Associated Music Publishers, 1964, 5 p. 

Hymn and Fuguing Tune Number l_,for viola and 
piano. New York: Associated Music Publishers, 1953, 
14 p. 

Hymn and Fuguing Tune Number j), for cello and 
piano. New York: Associated Music Publishers, 1960, 
11 p. 

. Hymn and Fuguing Tune Number 12 , for three horns. 

New York: Associated Music Publishers. 1960, 7 p. 

Hymn and Fuguing Tune Number 13 , for trombone and 
piano. New York: Associated Music Publishers, 1969, 
10 p. 

. Hymn and Fuguing Tune Number 16 , for violin and 

piano, New York: Peters Corporation, 1963, 7 p. 

. Hymn and Fuguing Tune Number 16 , for orchestra. 

New York: Peters Corporation, 1966, 32 p. 


"Improving Pan American Music Relations," Modern 
Music , 19/4 (May-June 1942) : 263-265. 

"Music as Propaganda," Bulletin of American 
Musicological Society , no Vol. (September 1948) : 9-10. 

"Music is My Weapon," Written for This I Believe 
Series 2, reprinted in Music Clubs Magazine , 34/1 
(September 1954): 25. 

"Music of and For the Records," Modern Music , 
7/3 (March-April 1931): 32-34. 

"The Music of Edgar Varese," Modern Music , 5/2 
(January-February 1928): 9-19. 

"Music of the Hemispheres," Modern Music , 6/3 
(March-April 1929): 12-18. 

New Musical Resources . New York: Knopf, 1930, 
158 p. 

Piano Music by Henry Cowell : Twenty Pieces Played 
by the Composer , Folkways Records Album #FG 3349, Album 
notes author unknown. cl963. 

"The Process of Musical Creation," American 
Journal of Psychology , 37/2 (April 1926) : 233-36. 

"Shaping Music for Total War," Modern Music , 
22 (1944-45) : 223-226. 

"Teaching as a Composer's Craft," Composer 's 
News-Record , 9 (Spring 1949): 1, 8. 

"Teaching Children to Create Music," New Era , 
21/7 (July-Aug 1940): 180-183. 

"Toward Neo-Pr imitivism, " Modern Music , 10/3 
(March-April 1933): 149-153. 

"What Should Composers Study?," Peabody Notes , 
6/3 (Fall 1952) , pages not numbered. 

Cowell, Henry D. , and Sidney Robertson. Charles Ives and 
His Music . New York: Oxford, 1955, 245 p. 

. "Music," in Collier 's Encyclopedia . New York: P. 

F. Collier and Son, 1950, Vol. XIII, pp. 310-315. 


■. "Rhythm," in Collier 's Encyclopedia. New York: P, 

F. Collier and Son, 1950, Vol. XVI, pp 19-20. 

. "Song," in Collier 's Encyclopedia . New York: P. 

F. Collier and Son, 1950, Vol. XVII, pp. 36-37. 

Cowell, Olive. Henry Cowell: A Record of His Activities . 
Unpublished Mimeograph in Rare Book Room of Peabody 
Conservatory of Music. Compiled June 1934. 23 p. 

Daniel, Oliver. "Henry Cowell," Stereo Review , 30/6 
(December 1974): 72-82. 

Downs, Edward. "Henry Cowell," in The New York 

Philharmonic Guide to the Symphony . New York: Walker 
and Company, 1976, pp. 287-288. 

Drlikova, E. "Henry Cowell, Leo Janacek, and who were the 
others?" Soneck Society Bulletin , 15/2 (1989): 58-61. 

Ewen, David. The Complete Book of 20th Century Music . New 
York: Prentice Hall, 1952, 498 p. 

, editor. The New Book of Modern Composers . New 

York: Knopf, 1961, 485 p. 

, editor. The World of 20th Century Music . New 

York: Prentice Hall, 1970, 989 p. 

Faculty of Philosophy Bulletin , 1951-1952 . Morningside 
Heights: Columbia University, 1950, 168 p. 

Ferris, Jean. Music : The Art of Listening . Dubuque, 
Iowa: Wm. C. Brown, 1988, 396 p. 

Garland, Peter. Americas : Essays on American Music and 
Culture . Santa Fe, NM : Soundings Press, 1982, 292 p. 

Gilbert, Steven E. "The Ultra-Modern Idiom: A Survey of 
New Music," Perspectives of New Music , 12 (1973-74) : 

Gillespie, Don C. "John Becker: Midwestern Musical 

Crusader." Ph.D. dissertation. University of North 
Carolina at Chapel Hill, 1977, 279 p. 

Gleason, Harold, and Warren Becker. 20th Century American 
Composers . Bloomington: Frangipani Press, 1980, 232 p. 


Goldman, R. F. "Henry Cowell (1897-1965) : A Memoir and an 
Appreciation," Perspectives of New Music 4/2 (Spring- 
Summer 1966) : 23-28. 

Haydon, Glen. Introduction to Musicology . New York: 
Prentice-Hall, 1941. 329 p. 

Helm, Everett. "Henry Cowell, American Pioneer," Musical 
America , 82 (April 1962): 35. 

"Henry Cowell 1897-1965," MENC Journal 52/4 (February-March 
1966) : 205. 

Hitchcock, H. Wiley. "Henry Cowell's Ostinato Pianissimo," 
Musical Quarterly, 70 (1984) , 23-44. 

Music in the United States: A Historical 

Introduction . Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice-Hall, 
1988. 365 p. 

International Cyclopedia of Music and Musicians , 9th edn. , 
edited by Oscar Thompson. New York: Dodd, Mead and Co, 
1975. 2511 p. 

James Galway 's Music in Time . New York: Harry N. Abrams, 
Inc, 1983. 384 p. 

Kakinuma, Toshie, and Mamoru Fujieda, "I am One of Mr. 
Ives' Legal Heirs; An Interview with Lou Harrison," 
Sonus , 9/2 (Spring 1989) : 46-57. 

Kamien, Roger, Music : An Appreciation . New York: McGraw- 
Hill, 1984, 600 p. 

Kennedy, Michael. The Oxford Dictionary of Music . New 
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Kerr, Harrison. "Creative Music and the New School," 
Trend 2/1 (March-April, 1934), 86-91. 

Koch, Frederick. Reflections on Composing . Pittsburgh: 
Carnegie Mellon Univ. Press, 1983, 82 p. 

Kostelanetz, Richard. Conversing with Cage. New York: 
Limelight Editions, 1988, 301 p. 

LaBarbara, Joan. "Radio Reviews," High Fidelity , 31 
(December 1981): pMA 13. 


Lackman, Susan Cohn. "A Personal Observation on the 
Composer, the Performer, and the Community," CMS 
Proceedings , The National and Regional Meetings ; 1988 . 
Edited by Michael J. Budds. Boulder: The College Music 
Society, Inc., 1990, p. 72. 

Levy, Kenneth. Music , A Listener 's Introduction . New 
York: Harper and Row, 1983, 526 p. 

Lichtenwanger, William. The Music of Henry Cowell : A 

Descriptive Catalogue . New York: Institute for Studies 
in American Music, 1986, 365 p. 

Loft, Abraham, "Chamber Music, HC: Hymn and Fuguing Tune #7 
for Viola and Piano," Music Library Association Notes 
10/2 (March, 1954): 274. 

Lowens, Irving. "The Origins of the American Fuguing Tune," 
Journal of American Music , 6 (1953) , 43-52. 

Manion, Martha. Writings About Henry Cowell : An Anotated 
Bibliography . New York: Institute for Studies in 
American Music, 1982, 368 p. 

Machlis, Joseph. Introduction to Contemporary Music. New 
York: W. W. Norton, 1979, 694 p. 

Martin, William R. and Julius Drossin. Music of the 

Twentieth Century . Englewood Cliffs, NJ: PTentlce- 
Hall, 1980, 400 p. 

McCue, George. Music in the American Society 1667-1976 : 
From Puritan Hymn to Synthesizer . New Brunswick, NJ: 
Transaction Books. 1977, 201 p. 

Mead, Rita H. "Cowell, Ives and New Music," Musical 
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. "Henry Cowell's New Music: 1925-1936." Ph.d. 

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616 p. (Xerox copy. Ann Arbor: University 
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Menuhin, Yehudi, and Curtis W. Davis. The Music of Man. 
New York: Methuen, 1979, 320 p. 

The Merck Manual . 15th edition. Robert Berkow, editor. 
Rahway, N.J: Merck Sharp and Dohme Research 
Laboratories, 1987, 2696 pages. 


Miller, Hugh Milton. History of Music . New York: Barnes 
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Moore, David W. "Record Reviews," American Record Guide , 
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Music Bulletin of Columbia University , School of General 
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Hazel B. Nohavec. Chicago: MENC , 1945, 89 p. 

Music Educators National Conference Minutes, Proceedings, 
and Reports: Board of Directors Minutes. Chicago: 
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Music in the Undergraduate Curriculum : A Reassessment . 
Boulder: College Music Society, 1989, 65 p. 

New School Bulletin : September 1944 , New York: New School 
For Social Research, Vol. 2/1 (September 1944), pages 
not numbered. 

New School Bulletin . New York: New School for Social 
Research, 6/1 (September 29, 1947), 156 p. 

New School Bulletin . New York: New School for Social 
Research Vol. 6/17 (December 27, 1948), pages not 

New School Bulletin . New York: New School for Social 

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New School Bulletin . New York: New School for Social 
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New School Bulletin . New York: New School for Social 
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New School Bulletin . New York: New School for Social 
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New School Bulletin . New York: New School for Social 
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New School Bulletin . New York: New School for Social 
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New School Bulletin . New York: New School for Social 
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New School Bulletin . New York: New School for Social 
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New School Bulletin . New York: New School for Social 

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New School Bulletin . New York: New School for Social 
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New School Bulletin . New York: New School for Social 
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New School Bulletin . New York: New School for Social 

Research, Vol. 18/12 (November 21, 1960), pages not 

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New School Catalogue 1934-1935 . New York: New School for 
Social Research, 1934, 64 p. 

New School Catalogue 1935-1936 . New York: New School for 
Social Research, 1935, 74 p. 

New School Catalogue : Spring 1941 . New York: New School for 
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New School Catalogue 1941-1942 . New York: New School for 
social Research, 1941, 116 p. 

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New School for Social Research 1935-1936 . New York: New 
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Edward Carwithen received his Bachelor of Fine 
Arts degree in music education, with high honors from the 
University of Florida in 1959. His Master of Arts in Music 
Theory was obtained at the Eastman School of Music in 
Rochester, New York. He began work on the Doctor of 
Philosophy in curriculum and instruction with an emphasis 
in music history through the Department of Instruction and 
Curriculum of the College of Education at the University of 
Florida in 1982. Mr. Carwithen is married to his high 
school sweetheart, and they have two sons: Jeffrey and 
Robert, and three grandchildren: Briana, 
Bethany, and Christopher. 


I certify that T have read this study and that in ray 
opinion it conforms to acceptable standards of scholarly 
presentation and is fully adequate, in scope and quality, 
as a dissertation for the degree of Doctor of Philosophy. 

/fV^-Z*/ K\.>~yLv^ 

David Kushner, Chair 

Professor of 



I certify that I have read this study and that in my 
opinion it conforms to acceptable standards of scholarly 
presentation and is fully adequate, in scope and quality, 
as a dissertation for the degree of Doctor of Philosophy. 

Margaret Early, Cochyir 
Professor of Instruction 


I certify that I have read this study and that in my 
opinion it conforms to acceptable standards of scholarly 
presentation and is fully adequate, in scope and quality, 
as a dissertation for the degree of Doctor of Philosophy. 




I P 




ugene Todd 
Professor of 

Instruction and 

I certify that I have read this study and that in ray 
opinion it conforms to acceptable standards of scholarly 
presentation and is fully adequate, in scope and quality, 
as a dissertation for the degree of Doctor of Philosophy. 


^ ■ £y?rY>>uxsr\ (£rC *dm*&' 

Camvlle Smith 

Associate Professor of Music 

I certify that I have read this study and that in my 
opinion it conforms to acceptable standards of scholarly 
presentation and is fully adequate, in scope and quality, 
as a dissertation for the degree of Doctor of Philosophy. 

ULcc l^coft7 

John Kitts 
Professor of Music 

This dissertation was submitted to the Graduate 
Faculty of the College of Education and to the Graduate 
School and was accepted as partial fulfillment of the 
requirements for the degree of Doctor of Philosophy. 

May 1991 

Dean, College of Educ^alTion 

Dean, Graduate School 


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